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From Ms. magazine, Millennium issue
Reprinted with permission
A Century of

Centenarians in this series:
Click on a name to read about the centenarian.
Click the "Back" button to return to this page.
Myrtle Davenport, 100 Florence G. Riedel, 100 Manella Stimson, 101
Lenore Schaeffer, 103 Polly Rosenbaum, 100 Ruth Ellis, 100
Lui Kiu Yee, 100  Agueda Martinez, 101  


WHAT A CENTURY FOR WOMEN. In countries around the world, women have overturned several millennia's worth of second-class citizenship to participate at nearly all levels of society. We have won the right to vote, own property, make our own decisions about sexual orientation, marriage, motherhood, and custody of our children. Should we choose to marry, we can keep our own names and legal identities. We can pursue higher education, have our own credit, earn and control our own money. We have access to most jobs, are rapidly establishing our own businesses, and are being elected to political office in ever increasing numbers. We have established our right to sexual pleasure and reproductive freedom.

We tend to think of this century as one of enormous technological leaps — a woman born in 1900 who is still alive today has seen the world go from the horse and buggy to spaceships in her lifetime. But in that same space of time, many women have also gone from being virtual chattel to having a voice and making decisions about their lives.

In the following pages, you'll meet a dozen women whose lives encompass the last 100 years of change. We also offer a list of some of the discoveries, inventions, and firsts by women-a compendium of the great and quirky things we've done that too many of the history books still fail to include. We have a time capsule that commemorates the innovations and ordinary objects that impacted women's lives in the twentieth century. Then we hear the voices of women themselves, telling us what it was like to live through the major events of these years. Their stories will take you from the early days of labor organizing, to the exhilarating first national women's conference, to the joyous year when a woman took command of the space shuttle and women's soccer commanded the world's attention. And finally we ask, what about tomorrow?

Here's to a century of women. And the future we dream of.
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