The invisible women: Behind every great man there's a great woman

The invisible women: Behind every great man there's a great woman
Published: 6 July 2019 - 8:32 p.m.
By: Megha Merani and Bernd Debusmann Jr
We need to pay more attention to and recognise the achievements of women.

Behind every great man there’s a great woman.

Or so goes the old adage, commonly believed to have originated from feminist movements that began in the US back in the 1940s. It was initially used in an attempt to give recognition to the wives or female figures who significantly contributed to the lives of successful men.

But though well-meaning, it’s not hard to see that stating a woman stands ‘behind’ the success of man is both patronising and defeating. Such statements have no place in our world if we are ever to progress towards a gender-equal and gender-neutral society. Women neither need nor want to stand behind.

From Zelda Fitzgerald to Lillian Disney and Mitza Maric - history has abundant instances of women whose work went unrecognised. Jane Hawking also remained unacknowledged for decades as she unfailingly supported her husband, the famed physicist Stephen Hawking’s pursuits. And no matter how substantial her support, not many likely recall Zelda Le Grange’s name as they revere her boss, South African leader Nelson Mandela.


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