Feminism

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22 Empowering International Women’s Day Quotes

Wise words from fearless women of all ages.

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Having trouble finding the words to express what International Women’s Day means to you? It’s understandable. Summarizing a lifetime of emotion based on the struggles and successes of the women who paved our way is no easy thing to do. Fortunately, some of the brightest babes in history have said it the best. And these 25 International Women’s Day quotes will make you feel all kinds of ready to smash the patriarchy.

Plus, there’s still plenty of time to read up and prepare for this special celebration. Monday, March 8 marks this year’s International Women’s Day, a time set aside and recognized for women since 1911. It was designed to “celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness about women's equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity, and fundraise for female-focused charities,” according to the official International Women’s Day website.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is especially poignant given the ongoing global pandemic: “Choose To Challenge.” The idea is that change can only come from challenge, and the women included below certainly wouldn’t argue with that. So look to their wise words for inspiration this International Women’s Day, and feel free to share them with your friends as well. We all could use a little more girl power these days.

Inspiring Quotes from Young Female Activists

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Perhaps the most reassuring sign that the future truly is female are the young women across the world taking a stand and leading the way. Here are a few of their powerful words.

On Women’s Participation

“No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men. There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.” — Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist and youngest Nobel Prize winner

On Outwitting the Patriarchy

“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning!” — Greta Thunberg, Swedish environmental activist

On the Next Generation

“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we're going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting. Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law.” — Emma González, American gun control activist

On Inclusive Diversity

“Black girl stories aren't just for black girls: they're for everybody.” — Marley Dias, author of Marley Dias Gets It Done! And Bounder of #1000BlackGirlBooks

On Using Your Voice

“It's time periods got a makeover!... if you feel that something has to change, be the person to start that change. Don't wait for anyone else to do it, because the chances are that no one will.” — Amika George, founder of the #FreePeriods campaign to provide free menstrual products to girls in the U.K.

Wise Words from Suffragettes

The suffragettes paved the way for women’s right to vote, not just in the United States but in many democracies around the world. International Women’s Day (really any day) is a good day to look at what they had to say about fighting for equality.

On Speaking Out

"Now all we need is to continue to speak the truth fearlessly, and we shall add to our number those who will turn the scale to the side of equal and full justice in all things." — Lucy Stone

On Equality

"Let women issue a sexual declaration of independence and absolutely refuse to cohabit with men until women are acknowledged as equals in everything, and the victory would be won in a single day." — Victoria Woodhall

On Bravery

"I’d rather go down in history as one lone Negro who dared to tell the government that it had done a dastardly thing than to save my skin by taking back what I said."— Ida B. Wells

On the Value of Independence

“I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.”― Susan B. Anthony

On Owning Your Narrative

“I would rather be a rebel than a slave.” — Emmeline Pankhurst

Empowering Quotes from Global Leaders

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If you feel like you can’t find any great female role models, you just need to widen your lens. Look around the world and you’ll find some astounding examples of women making big changes for the better and setting an example that the rest of us can follow.

On Believing in Yourself

"Every time you state what you want or believe, you're the first to hear it. It's a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don't put a ceiling on yourself." — Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, author, philanthropist

On Rising Above

“When they go low, we go high.” — Michelle Obama, former first lady, author, and activist

On Not Compromising Values

“When it comes to human dignity, we cannot make compromises.” — Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005

On the Freedom to Love

“In the face of love, everyone is equal. Let everyone have the freedom to love and to pursue their happiness.” —Tsai Ing-wen, the first female head of state in Taiwan's history

On Women’s Rights

“It is a small miracle women do not have short memories about our rights that have always, shamefully, been alienable.” — Roxanne Gay, American writer, professor, editor, and social commentator

On Being More Than A Gender

“I have never thought about my age or gender, I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate.” — Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland

Meaningful Quotes from Women Who Broke the Glass Ceiling

Role models have the power to shape our lives, so it’s only right that on this celebratory day we include women who have broken the glass ceiling for others.

On Paving The Way

“My mother used to tell me... my mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last,’” — Vice President Kamala Harris

On Pay Parity

"The more education a woman has, the wider the gap between men's and women's earnings for the same work." — first female Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

On Smashing Labels

“I've never seen myself as a 'girl driver.' I'm just a driver.” — Danica Patrick, American professional racing driver

On Determination

“Technique and ability alone do not get you to the top; it is the willpower that is most important.“ — Junko Tabei, climber and first woman to summit Mount Everest

On Demanding R-E-S-P-E-C-T

“I think women and children and older people are the three least-respected groups in our society.” — Aretha Franklin, singer and first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

On Being Valued

“The last reason I want to be hired is because of my gender. I want to be hired because you trust me, because of my potential, because you believe that I know basketball, and we go and we build from there.” — Becky Hammon, first woman to coach in an NBA regular-season game

Feeling all fired up? Now go share some girl power!

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