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- TV Show Ended -
There is no Next Episode of The Ascent of Woman planned.
Civilisation has given humanity extraordinary advances - codes of law and commerce, science and art. But what does it look like from the point of view of women? Travelling from the nomadic worlds of the Eurasian steppes to the early civilisations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome, Dr Amanda Foreman explores how early civilisations dealt with the roles and status of women and, in so doing, she asks some profound questions about the legacy they've left behind.
Travelling to Vietnam, China and Japan, Dr Amanda Foreman explores the role of women in Asia under the philosophy religions of Confucianism and Buddhism. Covering a period from the 1st century AD to the present day, she'll look at how Asian ideals of feminine virtue and the division of space between the female world of the home and male world of business and politics became a hallmark of Chinese identity. Part of yin and yang, they have cast a long shadow across women's lives, not just in China, but across Asia.
Dr Amanda Foreman travels to Istanbul, Germany, Paris and Delhi to explore the stories of women behind some of the most powerful empires of the Middle Ages. From 6th-century Byzantium to Medieval Europe, the Ottoman Court to the Mughal Empire, Amanda looks behind the male-dominated perceptions of these empires to reveal the strength of women at the heart of power and influence.
In this final film, Dr Amanda Foreman looks at the role of women in revolutions that have transformed the modern world, from political uprisings to reproductive rights. Amanda discovers, through women like campaigner and writer Olympe De Gouges, that the French Revolution's promise of equality, liberty and brotherhood would be limited to men. Bolshevik radical Alexandra Kollontai would find that while her fellow Russian revolutionaries may have put women's rights at the forefront of ideological change, the post-revolutionary world would be as rife with gender bias as the societies they'd helped transform.
In the end, revolutionary change for women would come from within the private sphere - in America, with activists like Margaret Sanger, who coined the term birth control and developed the pill which would finally give women control over when to have children. Amanda discusses the experiences of women in contemporary uprisings - in what's been called the Arab spring, when women defied cultural and political traditions, marched into public squares and called for change, only to find that once they demanded rights for women, they were denied them. Amanda discusses the growth of grass roots women's movements in Africa, like those in Liberia and Malawi, and interviews African women involved in democratic politics - Lindiwe Mazibuko, the South African leader of the opposition and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women. Amanda finishes the series with a bold statement - she believes the most critical issue of the 21st century is to address the inclusion of women, to break from the past and create a new model for social revolution - one of gender equality.