You may have never heard of her, but Lady Anne Clifford was a fairly powerful English noblewoman, an only child who nonetheless was prevented from inheriting her family’s properties because she was a woman. She spent much of her life trying to gain ownership and correct that injustice, also ensuring that she documented her struggles and used them as inspiration and encouragement of others. One of those she inspired was writer Virginia Woolf, who pursued professional writing at a time when women—even her now-famous colleagues such as Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters—hid such accomplishments from society, and who later noted that, to be a great writer, a woman must have money and a room of her own.
England has certainly made huge strides, as we were reminded through this year’s Oscar-winning portrayal of the powerful Margaret Thatcher and the unbelievably long overdue change in royal succession rules to allow a first-born girl the same right of primogeniture as a boy.
But think about that timeframe. Lady Anne lived in the 1600s, Virginia Woolf in the early 1900s, Thatcher in the late 1900s and the first girl to inherit the British throne under the new rules isn’t even born yet. And that’s the progress in highly privileged circles—what’s a poor girl to do?
Google engineers just demonstrated that 250 milliseconds is the wait time beyond which computer users will abandon a web site for the competitor’s. That’s about how much patience I’m feeling for women’s rights to be realized globally.
Women worldwide still long for Woolf’s luxury of a room of their own, not only unable to inherit property but unable to control any aspect of their lives. We are half the world, and we’re ready for our half, not just a room!