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Anonymous Is a Woman: A Global Chronicle of Gender Inequality (Paperback)

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“Books of the Week” — Smithsonian Magazine

“17 Brilliant Books That You Won’t Struggle to Finish” — Buzzfeed

“With a global economic crisis looming, Ansary’s book is a reminder that our responses must be alive to inequalities already at play.” — The Times Literary Supplement

Award-winning author, women's rights advocate, and historian Dr. Nina Ansary takes readers on a 4,000-year historical journey to expose the roots and manifestations of systemic gender discrimination. The book’s biographical profiles of fifty forgotten female innovators—brought to life by international illustrator Petra Dufkova—shatter deeply rooted gender myths to tell remarkable stories about groundbreaking contributions to the global community.

In 1929, British novelist Virginia Woolf ran her fingers along the spines of the books in her library wondering why no woman in Shakespeare’s era had written “a word of that extraordinary literature when every other man, it seemed, was capable of song or sonnet.” She concluded, “Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”

Nearly a century after Woolf penned those incisive words—frequently modified as “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman”—the phenomenon of female anonymity persists as women worldwide continue to be restricted by society’s formal and unspoken barriers.

  • Why does Virginia Woolf’s statement still echo in the twenty-first century?
  • Why have women been consistently denied opportunities that are automatically given to men?
  • And why has the historical record failed to adequately recognize notable women?

Anonymous Is a Woman. . .exposes the roots and manifestations of institutionalized gender and racial discrimination; dismantles centuries of historical bias through biographical profiles of fifty remarkable, yet forgotten women innovators; and challenges ingrained stereotypical assumptions to advance an unconventional argument for equality and inclusivity.

100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated. The primary recipients will be The Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights in Iran, and The London School of Economics Centre for Women, Peace, and Security, an academic space for scholars, practitioners, activists, policymakers, and students to develop strategies that promote justice, human rights, and participation of women in conflict-affected situations around the world.

About the Author


Dr. Nina Ansary is an award-winning Iranian-American author, historian, and women's rights advocate. As a UN Women Global Champion for Innovation and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics Centre for Women, Peace & Security, she regularly presents her work on women's rights and the impact of systemic gender discrimination at universities and conferences in the US and UK, including Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard, as well as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C, and the World Affairs Councils of America. Nina is the author of Anonymous Is a Woman: A Global Chronicle of Gender Inequality (Revela Press/March 2020) included in Smithsonian Magazine’s “Books of the Week” and listed by Buzzfeed as “17 Brilliant Books That You Won’t Struggle to Finish”; and Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran (Revela Press/2015), which garnered numerous awards – including the 2016 International Book Award in “Women’s Issues.” She is the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), the 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the 2018 Trailblazer Award from Barnard College, Columbia University. Nina has been recognized as one of “14 Privileged Women to Change the World” by Marie Claire and selected as one of “6 Women Who Build Bridges Not Walls” by The New York Times. She has appeared on Larry King, Sky News and the BBC, as well as a variety of publications, including Forbes.com, CNN.com, The Hill, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles magazine, Elle, Teen Vogue and the Yale Journal of International Affairs. Nina is an expert for the Women’s Media Center (WMC) SheSource and holds an MA in Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies and a PhD in History from Columbia University. She serves on the International Advisory Board of the University of Cambridge Middle East and North Africa Forum (MENAF), the Board of Directors of the New York-based organization The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), and the Board of Trustees of the Iranian American Women Foundation (IAWF). Connect with Nina on Twitter (@drninaansary) | Instagram (@ninaansary) | Facebook (facebook.com/ninaansary).

Praise For…


"It's about time! This anthology gives female innovators the credit they deserve - all the while exposing the egregious repercussions of inequality." --Teen Vogue Book Club Pick 2020

"Inspiring, compelling, and necessary...an examination of the systems of power that...have silenced women's voices and contributions." --Foreword Reviews * 5 Stars *

"With a global economic crisis looming, Ansary's book is a reminder that our responses must be alive to inequalities already at play." -- The Times Literary Supplement

"...An eclectic and enlightening look at the stories of women often ignored by history...does an excellent job of capturing readers' attention." --Kirkus Reviews

"...immersing yourself in this book will prove beneficial to your historical knowledge...a learning tool for men and women alike with insightful information galore." --San Francisco Book Review *5 Stars*

"...powerfully evocative text...and a unique, long-needed resource..." --Indiereader * 5 Stars *

"...an indispensable, brilliantly written call to action. Read the book and heed her call." --Melanne Verveer, Former US Ambassador for Global Women's Issues

"Fifty shades of genius - An elegant authoritative exploration of gender and society..." --Lyse Doucet, OBE Award winning journalist and BBC Chief International Correspondent

"...an essential contribution to illuminating the current social, economic, and political trends that are squashing the potential of at least 50% of the human population." --Scott Barry Kaufman, Author, Professor of Psychology, Barnard College, Columbia University

"...a must-read book for everyone who wants to understand the roots and manifestations of systemic gender discrimination in everyday life." --Michelle King, Director of Inclusion, Netflix

"...an eye-opening wake-up call...that impacted my views of the world, as a man and a father, as much as Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Any man who doubts the overwhelming benefits of diversity and gender equality in life, business, and politics needs to read this book." --Gregory Hogben, Author of My Daughter's Army, Advocate for Women's Rights and LGBT Equality

"...Nina Ansary has written one of this new decade's most significant books that will inspire every culture to understand the power of historical gender bias..." --Claudia Chan, Founder of S.H.E. Summit & Author of This Is How We Rise

"Dr. Ansary is changing history -- and challenging today's world where women continue to be marginalized..." --Kristy Wallace, CEO, Ellevate Network

"An impassioned appeal to accelerate the global movement for gender equality...challenges each of us to spread the carpet of justice to unlock the potential of women everywhere." --Bill Clifford, President and CEO, World Affairs Councils of America

"Dr. Nina Ansary has added to the historical record while striking an important blow on behalf of all humankind." --Jerrold D. Green, President and CEO, Pacific Council on International Policy

"Too often in history, the voices of women have gone unheard. This lovely, important and much-needed compendium puts that right." --Dr. Peter Frankopan, Professor of Global History at Oxford University and Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research
Product Details
ISBN: 9780986406454
ISBN-10: 0986406457
Publisher: Revela Press
Publication Date: April 15th, 2020
Pages: 256
Language: English