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A woman is a human who is both female and an adult. A traditional definition would restrict this group to people who are, or who appear to be, physiologically and biologically female and who have reached or exceeded puberty; however, this varies across and within cultures. In Western society and elsewhere, it is common to include transgender people who identify as female within the definition. The term girl is often used, sometimes controversially, to refer to young women, which many English speakers limit to female children.

The ability of a biologically-typical woman to experience pregnancy and childbirth is often closely-associated with the definition of womanhood, but the treatment and activities of women within societies are not generally restricted to this, meaning that in many cultures, women have been able to participate more and more fully, especially in modern times and regardless of whether they ever give birth or raise children.

The role and status of women have varied a great deal throughout history. Some societies have promoted a relative balance between the sexes, even if this has not always held in practice, while others have followed customs, rules, or laws to disfavour or restrict women. In many countries, this has led to women's rights campaigns; for example, the suffragist and suffragette movements in the United Kingdom during the early twentieth century demanded that women be allowed to vote on the same basis as men.

Notable women appear throughout history, including (from Ancient Egypt alone): Neithhotep (the earliest-named woman to definitely exist); Hatshepsut (the first female Pharaoh); Queen Nefertiti; and Cleopatra. Much more recently, Marie Curie became the first recipient of a Nobel Prize (1905, for physics), Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka was the first female head of government (1960), and Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space (1963).