These inspirational quotes for women, courtesy of everyone from Anne Frank to Beyoncé, reveal the true meaning of strength, equality, and courage.
“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse.”
— Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursingWikimedia Commons
“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”
— Janis Joplin, American musicianWikimedia Commons
“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
— Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist and Nobel laureateWikimedia Commons
"If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again."
— Sojourner Truth, American abolitionistWikimedia Commons
"If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It's much easier to apologize than it is to get permission."
Hopper, U.S. Naval Admiral and computer scientistmaaorg/Flickr
"I do not wish [women] to have power over men; but over themselves."
— Mary Wollstonecraft, English writer and philosopherWikimedia Commons
"I do know one thing about me: I don't measure myself by others' expectations or let others define my worth."
— Sonia Sotomayor, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme CourtWikimedia Commons
“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. We are filled with the popular wisdom of several centuries just past, and we are terrified to give it up.”
— Gloria Steinem, American activistGage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
"What makes you different or weird, that's your strength."
— Meryl Streep, American actressDick Thomas Johnson/Flickr
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
— Anne Frank, German diaristWikimedia Commons
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
— Nora Ephron, American writer and filmmakerScott McDermott/USA/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
“A man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”
— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian authorChris Boland
“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.”
— Melinda Gates, American philanthropistdfid/Flickr
''I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.''
— Dame Rebecca West, British author, journalist, and literary criticWikimedia Commons
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
— Audre Lorde, American writer and civil rights activistK. Kendall/Wikimedia Commons
"Women belong in all places where decisions are being made... It shouldn't be that women are the exception."
— Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme CourtWikimedia Commons
"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my ship."
— Louisa May Alcott, author of Little WomenWikimedia Commons
“I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else's whim or to someone else's ignorance.”
— bell hooks, American author and activistMontikamoss/Wikimedia Commons
"Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less."
— Susan B. Anthony, American suffragistWikimedia Commons
“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”
— Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of Statecommonwealthclub/Flickr
“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”
— Lady Gaga, American musicianEric Garcetti/Wikimedia Commons
"Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life.”
Mae Jemison, engineer, physician, and NASA astronautWikimedia Commons
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
— J. K. Rowling, British novelistDaniel Ogren/Wikimedia Commons
"You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose."
— Indira Gandhi, first female prime minister of IndiaWikimedia Commons
"The enemy is not lipstick, but guilt itself; we deserve lipstick, if we want it, AND free speech; we deserve to be sexual AND serious – or whatever we please.”
— Naomi Wolf, American author and journalistDavid Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons
"Words have power. TV has power. My pen has power."
— Shonda Rhimes, American television producer and screenwriterDisneyABC/Flickr
"You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone.”
—Erin McKean, American lexicographer poptech2006/Flickr
“Power is not given to you. You have to take it."
—Beyoncé Knowles, American musicianPete Sekesan/Wikimedia Commons
"I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man's work for less than a man's pay."
— Clara Barton, founder of the American Red CrossWikimedia Commons
“I know for sure that what we dwell on is what we become.”
— Oprah Winfrey, American media magnate and philanthropistaphrodite-in-nyc/Flickr
“I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”
— Virginia Woolf, English writerWikimedia Commons
“It’s not your job to like me, it’s mine.”
— Byron Katie, American speaker and authorLovingwhatisnt/Wikimedia Commons
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
— Judy Garland, American singer and actressPixabay
The best quotes have a unique power to inspire us to change our thinking, see things from a new perspective, and even propel us into action. We apply these powerful words to our own lives and they become our mantras.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the words of motivation, encouragement, and wisdom from important women past and present collected in the gallery above. And while these words may have been spoken and written by women, everyone can learn something about life from these empowering messages.
After this look at inspirational quotes for women, check out the most fascinating quotes from history's greatest minds. Then, have a look at some truly life-changing quotes from Bruce Lee. Finally, read the full story behind Rosie the Riveter.