Living through a once-in-a-century pandemic has certainly been taxing, even more so for the progression of women’s rights. When times get tough, sometimes the ultimate pick-me-up can only be found in thought-provoking women empowerment quotes.
Don’t be discouraged by thinking these powerful phrases are only of benefit to women. Everyone has so much to profit from dismantling age-old gender norms – the world could even be US$12 trillion better off.
A McKinsey Global Institute report in 2015 found that by narrowing the global gender gap there could be great multitrillion-dollar economic benefits to be shared where a 26 per cent boost could be added to the global gross domestic profit by 2025.
From increasing diversity in the workplace (which leads to increased productivity) to boosting business, equality creates opportunities for everyone.
Take it from these celebrated trailblazers who have overcome barriers to reach extraordinary heights. Let these women empowerment quotes inspire you to make a positive difference and fuel your vision for greater success.
27 inspiring women empowerment quotes
Gained notoriety as: the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate (at 17 years old) having survived a Taliban attack on her school in Afghanistan.
“I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. … We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”
Known as: an esteemed human rights lawyer who took the first case against terrorist organisation ISIS to court for genocide crimes as well as representing several high profile clients including WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange.
“The worst thing that we can do as women is not stand up for each other, and this is something we can practice every day, no matter where we are and what we do – women sticking up for other women, choosing to protect and celebrate each other instead of competing or criticising one another.”
Influential for: being an Academy Award winning actress and outspoken activist on world affairs including the Vietnam War and aligning herself with African Americans against police brutality in the 1970s.
“Feminism is not just about women; it’s about letting all people live fuller lives.”
An influential: author who worked as a civil rights activist for Dr Martin Luther King Jr and was the first female inaugural poet in US presidential history when she recited her poem for former president Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Influential for: becoming the US Supreme Court’s second female justice (there have only ever been four), advocating for women’s rights and the first justice to officiate a same-sex marriage.
“Women belong in all places where decisions are made … It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
Renowned for: her stellar tennis career where she has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles in her career.
“Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.”
Influential for: Co-founding the world’s largest private charitable foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, being a passionate advocate for children living in poverty and becoming the first woman to donate more than US$40 billion, as reported by CNBC.
“Gender diversity is not just good for women; it’s good for anyone who wants results.”
Gained notoriety as: one of the world’s most renowned feminists when she published an article in 1969 called ‘After Black Power, Women’s Liberation’ sparking the US feminist movement.
“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons … but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”
Influential for: extraordinary supermodel career where she holds a record of five cover appearances for Sports Illustrated swimsuit Issue starting in the 1980s, giving her the nickname ‘The Body’.
“I’m pro everyday equality, everyday celebration and everyday respect. I feel fortunate that we are not back in the days where men were seen as more powerful.”
Known for: her feminist literature where her quote (below) gained global traction in 2014, which went on to be used by Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima – propelling it to the Women’s March in 2017.
“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”
Influential for: being the former CEO of Pepsico, now Amazon Director – an inspiring career given she was brought up during a time when Indian girls were taught only enough to get them married.
“The glass ceiling will go away when women help other women break through that ceiling.”
Influential for: becoming the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire in 2012 more than a decade after she founded Spanx, which promotes body positivity.
“When you help a woman fulfil her potential, magic happens.”
Known as: an actor who, despite starring in the Harry Potter films for 10 years, went on to graduate from Brown University, became a UN Women Goodwill ambassador and joined the board at Kering.
“We need to live in a culture that values and respects and looks up to and idolises women as much as men.”
Influential for: being former First Lady of the US where she advocated for poverty awareness, education and wellbeing.
“Strong men, strong men, men who are truly role models, don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful.”
Influential for: trailblazing women in Hollywood by acting, writing and directing films that showcase women supporting women while also fighting gender stereotypes through comedy.
“Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”
Influential for: her role as Facebook’s COO, being the first woman on Facebook’s board of directions, and leading the way in the tech industry having held senior positions at Google.
“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
Gained notoriety as: the first woman and first woman of colour to be elected as US Vice President, also making her the highest-ranking female official in US history.
“You never have to ask anyone permission to lead. When you want to lead, you lead.”
Influential for: creating prominent fashion label, Tory Burch, which empowers female entrepreneurs through the Tory Burch Foundation by providing funding to tackle stereotypes holding women back.
“If it doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not dreaming big enough.”
Renowned for: being the first African American to own her own production company where she created her popular daily talk show, and her philanthropic actions such as reportedly donating US$25 million to Morehouse College.
“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”
Influential for: being the first female UK Prime Minister and was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century who was dubbed the ‘Iron Lady’ due to her uncompromising leadership style.
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
Influential for: being a multi award-winning musician and the Founder of Fenty Beauty, where LVMH bought 50 per cent of the company, making her the wealthiest female musician in the world.
“There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no as an answer.”
Gained notoriety for: redefining and influencing women’s clothing after World War I by pioneering women’s trousers along with innovating the women’s suit and the little black dress, ultimately changing the course of fashion.
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
Influential for: establishing her renowned beauty business by taking bold chances such as creating a fragrance women could buy themselves all year round, opposed to only receiving perfume as a birthday gift from one’s husband.
“No one ever became a success without taking chances … One must be able to recognise the moment and seize it without delay.”
Influential for: writing the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale , which was recently turned into an award-winning television series translated into several languages, leading her to winning a Literary Peace Prize 35 years after first publishing the book.
“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”
Influential for: becoming the first woman to serve as US Speaker of the House and for her efforts towards fighting for the people of the US by working to lower healthcare costs, increase workers’ pay and clean corruption.
“Women are leaders everywhere you look – from the CEO who runs a Fortune 500 company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. Our country was built by strong women, and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes.”
Influential for: being first – the first female Governor of South Carolina, the first female Asian-American Governor and the first Indian American in presidential cabinet.
“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.”
Influential for: paintings that audaciously touched on women’s issues including abortion, birth and miscarriage, and is one of Mexico’s earliest feminists.
“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”