In the early decades of the 20th century the roles of men and women seemed ordained. Man-the-Hunter had exclusively taken on the roles of breadwinner, adventurer, leader, executive, politician, artist, writer, soldier, businessman, and in fact, just about everything else. Woman-the-Cave-keeper was his housekeeper, his child-bearer/heir-producer, and his comfort. With a few notable exceptions (Queen Victoria, Joan of Arc, for example), women were cast by society as supporters only.

But the 20th century changed everything!

After two horrific world wars, and the all-embracing social revolution of the 1960s, women were no longer prepared to accept that they were “second-class citizens”. They demanded emancipation.

Slowly women began to assert themselves as leaders. In some of the more progressive countries of Asia and Europe, women began to emerge as heads of state, or heads of government. Across the world women executives began being seen as promotion prospects; with many reaching the highest positions as CEOs.

Of course, many of these early trailblazing women were exceptional. They had to be. They were fighting for supremacy in a male dominated environment. At first, the only women who could get to the top were those who were able to beat the men at their own game, to be more aggressive, more assertive, more pro-active, in short, more masculine. Yet these women performed a remarkable service to womankind in general. They were pioneers. They proved absolutely that it was possible for women to succeed in any field that they chose. Suddenly opportunities were there for women which had simply never been open to them before.

Now, in the early decades of a new century, the world is a very different place. At last, companies and corporations are beginning to realize that women and men are both valuable: that each bring different but equally valid sets of skills and attitudes to the table. Figures now prove that the most successful companies are those which use both men and women in their corporate leadership. “The best of both worlds” is, at last, accepted corporate philosophy!

Women have value.

But, the first step to YOUR success, in whatever field you choose, is to recognize your own value. Because, until you recognize it, nobody else will.

Everything you want for yourself starts with your own vision of your self. If you think you are worthless, others will too. But, if you think you are priceless, then that is the message others will read in you. That’s why this Handbook of Self Esteem, has been chosen as the very first volume in the WomanlyHealth library; it’s THAT important. Learn to value yourself, learn to love yourself. Your self esteem can be your first step to the life you want, and deserve.

Generations of women have fought hard to put opportunities in front of you, it is now up to you to accept the challenge.