100 Empowering Feminist Quotes from Inspiring Women

The road to true gender equality remains long and ever-shifting—particularly when it comes to all the nuanced ways gender intersects with race, class, and sexuality. But today’s influential female voices give us hope that we’re headed in the right direction. To commemorate International Women’s Day, we’ve gathered 100 empowering quotes by feminist trailblazers who have embraced the power of their womanhood—and who will inspire you to do the same.

| 1 |

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”
Maya Angelou

| 2 |

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
Shirley Chisholm

| 3 |

“I want to show that you can have fun and have purpose, be respectful and speak your mind. You can be both elegant and a provocateur. You can be curvy and still be a fashion icon. I wish this freedom for every person.”

| 4 |

“The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet.”
Adrienne Rich

| 5 |

“I understand a woman’s need to have something for herself.”
Jill Biden

| 6 |

Of all the nasty outcomes predicted for women’s liberation…none was more alarming than the suggestion that women would eventually become just like men.”
Barbara Ehrenreich

| 7 |

“People had to adjust to the uncomfortableness of me just existing, not entertaining or delivering or slaying.”

| 8 |

“I didn’t see enough examples of different versions of how a woman can find happiness and joy and power and sensuality, sexuality, all of that, without it being through the lens of how I’m seen by a man. People are like, ‘You’re the poster child for being single.’ And I was like, ‘Great.’ But what I would prefer is that I’m the poster child for living my life on my terms. And that there’s a version of that for everyone.”
Tracee Ellis Ross

| 9 |

“My 20s and my 30s…were a time where you had to be a loud bitch to just find some space in the room.”
Charlize Theron

| 10 |

simone de beauvoir reading

Photo Researchers//Getty Images

[pullquote]On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself – on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger. In the meantime, love represents in its most touching form the curse that lies heavily upon woman confined in the feminine universe, woman mutilated, insufficient unto herself.”
Simone de Beauvoir

| 11 |

“No matter what the fight, don’t be ladylike! God almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.”
Mother Jones

| 12 |

“If you are to free yourselves you must break the chains of oppression yourselves. Only then can we express our dignity, only when we have liberated ourselves can we co-operate with other groups. Any acceptance of humiliation, indignity or insult is acceptance of inferiority.”
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

| 13 |

“We know exactly what’s in a contract every time a man signs it. We never know what women make. Why is it? Because they’re not something to be proud of. We need to change that narrative.”
Megan Rapinoe

| 14 |

“I want to be able to have fun with how I present myself in the world without feeling like I’m a bad feminist or a good feminist.”
Emily Ratajkowski

| 15 |

“Our response can’t be to shrug or to think only about our own countries, because we are all connected. This is a time to fight. If there is a fight in this life, it must be for freedoms and rights. And if we have our freedom, we must fight for others who don’t.”
Angelina Jolie

| 16 |

“I’ve survived [because] I want to live. I want to be here. Even in our troubled world. Even with all the greed and stupidity and terrible things that we’re all facing and reading in the news or experiencing, I want to be alive. I want to breathe. I want to do my work.”
Patti Smith

| 17 |

“That taught me that power has to come from inside. It has to come from knowing who you are, why you’re on earth, what is the meaning of your life. That’s power. If it’s all about armor, possessions, and weapons, that’s not power.”
Jane Fonda

| 18 |

“I know people are not used to seeing confident, educated, happy, chunky African American girls, and I don’t care. They’re just going to have to get used to it.”
Precious Lee

| 19 |

“I want to build a community where women of all races can communicate and share some of those secrets, so we can continue to support and take care of each other. I want to give women a space to feel their own strength and tell their stories. That is power.”

| 20 |

“To be able to create opportunities where women are telling their stories in their own words, you’re just getting a better perspective of the human experience.”
Reese Witherspoon

| 21 |

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
Alice Walker

| 22 |

“There is something threatening about a woman who is not occupied with children. There is something at-loose-ends feeling about such a woman. What is she going to do instead? What sort of trouble will she make?”
Sheila Heti

| 23 |

“Nearly everything I know about love, I’ve learnt from my long-term friendships with women.”
Dolly Alderton

| 24 |

“what’s the greatest lesson a woman should learn? / that since day one. she’s already had everything / she needs within herself. it’s the world that / convinced her she did not.”
Rupi Kaur

| 25 |

“A slut is someone, usually a woman, who’s stepped outside of the very narrow lane that good girls are supposed to stay within. Sluts are loud. We’re messy. We don’t behave. In fact, the original definition of ‘slut’ meant ‘untidy woman.’ But since we live in a world that relies on women to be tidy in all ways, to be quiet and obedient and agreeable and available (but never aggressive), those of us who color outside of the lines get called sluts. And that word is meant to keep us in line.”
Jaclyn Friedman

| 26 |

“Hear me as a woman./Have me as your sister./On purpled battlefield breaking day,/So I might say our victory is just beginning,/See me as change,/Say I am movement,/That I am the year,/and I am the era/of the women.”
Amanda Gorman

| 27 |

“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”
G.D. Anderson

| 28 |

“They’ll tell you you’re too loud, that you need to wait your turn and ask the right people for permission. Do it anyway.”
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

| 29 |

melbourne, australia december 11 malala yousafzai speaks to thousands of guests at the melbourne convention and exhibition centre on december 11, 2018 in melbourne, australia malala yousafzai is a pakistani activist for female education and the youngest nobel prize laureate at age 11, malala began her campaign for the rights of girls to receive an education, blogging about life under the taliban in pakistans swat valley at 15 years she survived a gunshot to the head after the taliban tried to silence her after her recovery, malala established a charity dedicated to giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses now a student at oxford university, malala continues to fight for the education of all children, all over the world photo by james d morgangetty images for the growth faculty

James D. Morgan//Getty Images


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.
Malala Yousafzai

| 30 |

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
Audre Lorde

| 31 |

“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.”
Rebecca West

| 32 |

“All women, whatever be their position, should demand political equality as a means of a freer life, and one calculated to yield rich blessings to society.”
Clara Zetkin

| 33 |

“Wouldn’t it be nice if Black girls weren’t inundated with negative, sexist comments about Black women? If they were told instead of the many important things that we’ve achieved? … Black women, too often in the shadows of such accomplishments, actually powered the civil rights movement.”
Megan Thee Stallion

| 34 |

Room, Textile, Sitting, Furniture, Smoking,

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Women are always saying, ‘We can do anything that men can do.’ But men should be saying, ‘We can do anything that women can do.’
Gloria Steinem

| 35 |

“Feminism is for everybody.”
bell hooks

| 36 |

“I think transwomen, and transpeople in general, show everyone that you can define what it means to be a man or woman on your own terms. A lot of what feminism is about is moving outside of roles and moving outside of expectations of who and what you’re supposed to be to live a more authentic life.”
Laverne Cox

| 37 |

“I want people to know that they can be dynamic; that they don’t have to be defined in just one way; and that all of us can benefit from stepping outside the box and allowing ourselves to learn and experiment and explore—even a former First Lady.”

Michelle Obama

| 38 |

“You don’t have to be pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.’”
Erin McKean

| 39 |

“I can promise you that women working together – linked, informed and educated – can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet.”
Isabelle Allende

| 40 |

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”
Michelle Obama

| 41 |

Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Anniversary Event

Caroline McCredie//Getty Images

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 for an answer.

| 42 |

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man; when a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.”
Bette Davis

| 43 |

“Men often ask me, ‘Why are your female characters so paranoid?’ It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”
Margaret Atwood

| 44 |

“Women need a seat at the table, they need an invitation to be seated there, and in some cases, where this is not available, they need to create their own table. We need a global understanding that we cannot implement change effectively without women’s political participation.”
Meghan Markle

| 45 |

“I always wanted to be a femme fatale. Even when I was a young girl, I never really wanted to be a girl. I wanted to be a woman.”
Diane von Furstenberg

| 46 |


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I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.
Maya Angelou

| 47 |

“Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

| 48 |

“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.”
Nancy Pelosi

| 49 |

emma watson

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The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.
Emma Watson

| 50 |

“I’ve been in so many spaces where I’m the first and only Black trans woman or trans woman period. I just want to work until there are fewer and fewer ‘first and only’s.”
Raquel Willis

| 51 |

“We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”
Sheryl Sandberg

| 52 |

“Whether I am meant to or not, I challenge assumptions about women. I do make some people uncomfortable, which I’m well aware of, but that’s just part of coming to grips with what I believe is still one of the most important pieces of unfinished business in human history—empowering women to be able to stand up for themselves.”
Hillary Clinton

| 53 |

“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.”

| 54 |

“My movement is my movement. When all the dust has settled on the groundbreaking-ness, I’m going to still be doing this. I’m not going to suddenly change. I’m going to still be telling my life story through music. And if that’s body-positive to you, amen. If that’s feminist to you, amen. If that’s pro-black to you, amen. Because ma’am, I’m all of those things.”

| 55 |

“You could make a case that, along with the technological revolution, the most provocative upending destabilizing thrilling change in the course of human history is that we’re finally in it. … We’re here now, women are in the world, and we will not be bullied.”
Meryl Streep

| 56 |

“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

| 57 |

“Women will be hidden no more. We will not remain hidden figures. We have names. … It was woman that gave you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was woman that gave you Malcolm X. And according to the Bible, it was a woman that gave you Jesus. Don’t you ever forget it.”
Janelle Monáe

| 58 |

“No woman should be told she can’t make decisions about her own body. When women’s rights are under attack, we fight back.”
Kamala Harris

| 59 |

“For I conclude that 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. We are entitled to wear cowboy boots to our own revolution.”
Naomi Wolf

| 60 |

“That’s one of the things I have dysphoria around as a trans woman. ‘So what if I’m not a model?’ … But I was just like, ‘This is me. This is what I look like. This is who I love. This is who I fight for.’”
Raquel Willis

| 61 |

“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
Sheryl Sandberg

| 62 |

“If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.”
The Cohambee River Collective

| 63 |

“Women’s freedom is the sign of social freedom.”
Rosa Luxemburg

| 64 |

“Women’s speech—and the fact that we are now listening to it—has enraged men in a way that makes them determined to reestablish the longstanding hierarchy of power in America. … And yet this awful truth will not stop women from speaking, and I do not think that it will turn a movement into a moment. It has become clear that there is not nearly enough left to lose.”
Jia Tolentino

| 65 |

aoc wears all white at trump's state of the union address

Win McNamee//Getty Images

[pullquote]Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as being quiet. In fact, often times, the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez[/pullquote]

| 66 |

“They cannot stand that a refugee, a black woman, an immigrant, a Muslim, shows up in Congress thinking she’s equal to them. But I say to them, ‘How else did you expect me to show up?’”
Ilhan Omar

| 67 |

“It’s important to teach our female youth that it’s OK to say, ‘Yes, I am good at this,’ and you don’t hold back.”
Simone Biles

| 68 |

“Maybe it just boils down to: I’m a woman who’s really into her career, so I’m obsessed with the craft of my work. … There’s a romance in that for me.”

| 69 |

“In my opinion, the most exciting potential of women of color formations resides in the possibility of politicizing this identity—basing the identity on politics rather than the politics on identity.”
Angela Davis

| 70 |

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
Toni Morrison

| 71 |

“We know that when a woman speaks truth to power, there will be attempts to put her down… I’m not going to go anywhere.”
Maxine Waters

| 72 |

“I don’t think about beauty. I wake up and I want to be a smarter person, that’s my focus. … I’m encouraging certainly my girls that if they can make their inside and who they are really, really stunning then everything falls together.”
Angelina Jolie

| 73 |

“‘It is impossible for you to do it,’ was the terrible verdict. ‘In the first place you are a woman and would need a protector, and even if it were possible for you to travel alone you would need to carry so much baggage that it would detain you in making rapid changes. Besides you speak nothing but English, so there is no use talking about it; no one but a man can do this.’”

“‘Very well,’ I said angrily, ‘Start the man, and I’ll start the same day for some other newspaper and beat him.’”
Nellie Bly

| 74 |

“I hate to hear you talking so like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.”
Jane Austen

| 75 |

portrait of mrs martin luther king

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Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe you must become its soul.
Coretta Scott King

| 76 |

“I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.”

| 77 |

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?”
Sojourner Truth

| 78 |

“More and more women are realizing that only collective strength and action will allow us to be free to fight for the kind of society that meets basic human needs.”
Roxanne Dunbar

| 79 |

“I hear a lot of people saying, when talking about girls’ empowerment and women as well, you’ll often hear people saying, ‘You’re helping them find their voices,’ I fundamentally disagree with that. Women don’t need to find their voice. They need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen.”
Meghan Markle

| 80 |

“By propagating women’s nature as non-violent they are discouraging women from becoming fighters in the struggle for their own liberation and that of society.”
Anuradha Ghandy

| 81 |

supreme court justices scalia and ginsburg discuss first amendment at forum

Alex Wong//Getty Images

Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. … It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg

| 82 |

“Black women have had to develop a larger vision of our society than perhaps any other group. They have had to understand white men, white women, and black men. And they have had to understand themselves. When black women win victories, it is a boost for virtually every segment of society.”
Angela Davis

| 83 |

“For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.”
Audre Lorde

| 84 |

“A revolutionary woman can’t have no reactionary man.”
Assata Shakur

| 85 |

“When a woman is assaulted, one of the first questions people ask is, Did you say no? This question assumes that the answer was always yes, and that it is her job to revoke the agreement. To defuse the bomb she was given. But why are they allowed to touch us until we physically fight them off? Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?”
Chanel Miller

| 86 |

“There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
Virginia Woolf

| 87 |

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

| 88 |

“I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying—trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.”
Roxane Gay

    | 89 |

    “Who made man the exclusive judge, if women partake with him the gift of reason?”
    Mary Wollstonecraft

      | 90 |

      “I don’t want to think about what I’m leaving. I just think about who I am every single day behind closed doors and behind cameras. And that’s what I focus on.”
      Serena Williams

        | 91 |

        “Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”
        Virginia Woolf

          | 92 |

          “She didn’t care that people called her a bitch. ‘It’s just another word for feminist,’ she told me with pride.”
          Gayle Forman

            | 93 |

            “Men should think twice before making widowhood women’s only path to power.”
            Gloria Steinem

              | 94 |

              “I’m not going to limit myself just because people won’t accept the fact that I can do something else.”
              Dolly Parton

                | 95 |

                “I am a woman and a warrior. If you think I can’t be both, you’ve been lied to.”
                Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

                  | 96 |

                  “I am a woman / Phenomenally / Phenomenal woman / That’s me.”
                  Maya Angelou

                    | 97 |

                    “Feminism is layered and its power comes from its diversity.”
                    Scarlett Curtis

                      | 98 |

                      “Behind every great woman… is another great woman.”
                      Kate Hodges

                        | 99 |

                        “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.”
                        Melinda Gates

                        | 100 |

                        “To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
                        Hillary Clinton