Though historical advancements and successful pushes for more rights have brought women into a better place than ever before, they still face daily challenges in the workplace, their personal relationships, and elsewhere. As a woman, it can be difficult to keep your chin up when you’re down, especially if you face hurdles that seem insurmountable.
In times of difficulty, you might draw power and energy from motivational quotes from other women who have faced similar challenges. Women ranging from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Gloria Steinem to Emma Watson have a lot to say that can help women achieve their goals like never before.
Today, look at some powerful inspirational quotes for women so you can draw on their timeless wisdom and focus when you need it most.
1. “If you can dance and be free and not be embarrassed, you can rule the world.” – Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler is an actor, activist, and important speaker for young women of all stripes. This quote from her means even more because it’s true. Many women may find it difficult to express themselves in the face of criticism. For many, it can feel as though they are criticized or ridiculed no matter what they do.
Poehler’s quote tells women the truth of the matter: ignore them. It’s better to dance and be free and completely circumvent embarrassment than it is to pay attention to any of the people who might try to tear you down.
2. “I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles.” – Audrey Hepburn
This famous actress was known for many of her feminist-oriented quotes, and this is no different. Hepburn wisely points out that happy girls are the prettiest girls, emphasizing that true beauty and worth come from within rather than from the surface of our bodies.
More importantly, Hepburn’s quote is a sage reminder that being happy when possible, even if things are going wrong, is a power in and of itself.
3. “Ignore the glass ceiling and do your work. If you’re focusing on the glass ceiling, focusing on what you don’t have, focusing on the limitations, then you will be limited.” – Ava DuVernay
DuVernay is an American filmmaker, film publicist, and television producer. Suffice it to say — she knows exactly what she’s talking about when she mentions the glass ceiling!
Even today, with modern advancements and political improvements, many women find it difficult to progress in certain careers or industries. DuVernay’s quote is important, especially for women who focus too much on what others think or the artificial barriers that some may put up in their ways.
Ignore the glass ceiling. Don’t worry so much about it being there in the first place. After all, it’s made of glass!
4. “The most alluring thing a woman can have is confidence.” – Beyoncé
Beyoncé is right about a lot of things, but especially this. Too often, women have their confidence degraded because of mean comments or because they feel like they don’t fit some feminine ideal, especially when it comes to looks for fashion.
But Beyoncé is truly correct when she says that confidence is the most alluring thing a woman can project. As you may already know, real confidence comes from within.
5. “Champions keep playing until they get it right.” – Billie Jean King
King was the former number-one world tennis player, and she won 39 major titles, 12 of which were in tennis singles. She’s most well known for the infamous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match against the top male tennis player, during which she won, despite the odds stacked against her.
But that victory may be partially due to the idea she expresses above. According to King, champions don’t just win once. Instead, they continue working or focusing on their efforts until they get it right. This quote is applicable to just about anyone, whether you are a programmer, sports enthusiast, teacher, or anyone else.
6. “Females are the most beautiful, gorgeous creatures in the whole world. And I think we are gorgeous no matter what size we are.” – Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys frequently has a way with words, and this quote demonstrates that aptly. Many women struggle with beauty ideals, especially since they seem to change every few years or decades. You might have the perfect or “ideal” body type in one decade, but in another decade, the ideal body type might change, leading you to feel that you were left behind.
But Keys’ quote is the truth of the matter: women are beautiful no matter what size they are.
7. “Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart
You’ve probably heard about the first major female pilot in history. This famous aviator always had her eyes on the sky, but she took the time to inspire women worldwide with quotes like this. As she points out, it’s important for women to try the things men have tried. There are very few, if any, fields where women cannot directly compete with their masculine counterparts.
In addition, there are some things that women simply do better than men!
8. “Strong women don’t have attitudes, we have standards.” – Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe had a very difficult life in more ways than one. For her professional career, she was constantly in the public spotlight and faced a plethora of pressures from the public, her colleagues, and her romantic interests.
But all of that adversity gave her the wisdom and strength to produce quotes like the above. Monroe is certainly right when she says that strong women can impose their standards on others, especially men who may not be used to women displaying such internal strength.
9. “Bring your whole self to the experience. Because the more we do that, the more that people get to see that, the more comfortable everybody’s gonna be with it.” – Bozoma Saint John
The American Bozoma Saint John is a businessperson and a current marketing executive, having such credentials as being the former CMO or chief marketing officer at Netflix. She points out an important and difficult faucet of modern womanhood: women often feel that they have to conceal or “smooth the edges off of” parts of themselves to present an appropriate version of their personalities to the public.
Nothing could be further from the truth. As Saint John says, it’s better to bring your entire self to every experience, whether professional, personal, or casual.
10. “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde was one of the most important feminist activists of the 20th century. She was a writer, professor, and civil rights activist who dedicated her life to confronting the injustices of sexism and racism.
Her quote is just as powerfully true now as it was when she first uttered it decades ago. It’s an important element in modern feminism, too – solidarity is important in any mass movement. Stand up for each other, even when it’s difficult or even when others are facing unique challenges you don’t have experience with.
11. “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher
Say what you will about her politics, but Margaret Thatcher had a way with speeches and with making inspirational quotes, especially for powerful, feminist-minded women. The above quote is important to remember if you find yourself in a competitive work environment where men frequently talk over you, intentionally or not.
Focus on doing a great job and taking credit for your accomplishments. While the men in your workplace continue to try to one-up each other in arguments or debates, you can get the real work done and produce true value for your organization by focusing your efforts on actual progress.
12. “Once I learned to like me more than others did, then I didn’t have to worry about being the funniest or the most popular or the prettiest. I was the best me and I only ever tried to be that.” – Issa Rae
This American actress, writer, producer, and comedian has a lot to say, so keep this quote from her in mind at all times. If you struggle with identity or feeling like you can’t be authentic personally or professionally, just remember that you’ll give up a lot of anxiety if you try to like yourself.
Practice makes perfect, of course, so try uttering positive self-talk phrases in the mirror before you go to bed and right when you wake up.
13. “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are an excellent leader.” – Dolly Parton
The ever-wise Dolly Parton imparts an important quote for women worldwide. In this quote, she demonstrates the importance of doing things while keeping the future in mind. Your actions as a woman in the modern era have a huge potential to inspire future women to do even better and to believe in themselves.
That’s doubly true, given the prevalence of social media and online recordings. These days, people are on camera more than ever. You can take that opportunity and inspire women just like some of the women on this list have inspired you through their actions or timely quotes.
14. “In too many instances, the march to globalization has also meant the marginalization of women and girls. And that must change.” – Hillary Clinton
As a child of the tumultuous decades of the 60s through the 80s, Hillary Clinton had a front-row seat through the growing globalization of worldwide economies and international alliances.
As the world continues to become even more interconnected due to the Internet and social media, remember to focus on the personal relationships that give you your focus and grounding in the real world. That’s the best way to make a positive change for all female-kind.
15. “Women have discovered that they cannot rely on men’s chivalry to give them justice.” – Helen Keller
Keller’s wise words ring true for any woman who has experienced injustice at a man’s hands. Men’s chivalry is useful from time to time, but more often than not, it is merely a shield for their egos and results in more pain or discrimination for women.
You cannot rely on men to help you get to where you need to go or to protect you in times of crisis. As the feminists of previous decades have discovered, taking control of your life and protection as a self-actualized woman is far better.
16. “I encourage women to step up. Don’t wait for someone to ask you.” – Reese Witherspoon
The famous actress who said the above quote is right in more ways than one. As noted earlier, lots of women struggle with being taught to stay quiet and passive, particularly in group meetings or competitions. But unfortunately, the modern workplace thrives on competition, and women are expected to speak up and step up to roles of authority without having the same training as men.
You can turn that around starting today by stepping up and not waiting for someone to ask for your opinion. Take a page from the men’s collective book and start voicing your opinion whenever you think it is valuable.
17. “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
More than ever, women have unprecedented freedom and leadership opportunities in both the professional sector and in the private sphere of the home, though this should have been the case earlier. Historians now realize that women were behind many of the major pushes and developments that led to American supremacy around the world, even though men overshadowed them at the time.
No matter what you want to do, you can be a leader. Want to be a stay-at-home mom and raise kids you can be proud of? You can do that! Want to start your own company and run it as CEO? You can do that, too! You can even do both at once. Bottom line: no matter what you want to do as a woman, you can achieve it.
18. “I am a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.” – Maya Angelou
This quote is particularly important for women who struggle to live up to idealized versions of femininity. Remember, simply being you is enough to be a woman! You don’t have to define your womanhood based on other people’s ideas or society overall.
No matter what you look like or what you do, you are a phenomenal woman.
19. “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Michelle Obama
The former First Lady knows exactly what she’s talking about! These days, women have unprecedented opportunities in the workplace and in the private sector, so now’s the time to seize your dreams and never let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s a sentiment echoed by other politicians and powerful women, such as Kamala Harris, Judy Garland, and Diane von Furstenberg.
If you ever get down, remember that women just like you are succeeding in ways that women of previous generations could never have dreamed of.
20. “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey
Opera is now known as a successful TV star, but she wasn’t always so fortunate. In fact, she had to try again and again and proceed through several failures before she found her success. Take this lesson to heart.
Even if you have faced adversity or challenges, those failures are just opportunities to learn and grow. You will eventually succeed, so don’t be afraid of temporary failures or setbacks in the meantime.
21. “Women are like teabags. We don’t know our true strength until we are in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Here’s another former First Lady with some real wisdom to share. If you’re a woman, you already know how to hold up under pressure and tackle massive challenges when push comes to shove.
Remember that if you face additional challenges in the future. You have more strength than you think, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
22. “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
It’s important to remember that women are strongest when they stand together. If you have the ability to inspire or support other women, use that ability in the workplace, personally, or socially. The feminist movement was built on solidarity; you, as a modern woman, have the opportunity to honor the legacy of your ancestors and fight for even more rights and privileges for women.
23. “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” – Melinda Gates
Gates’ quote reflects a truth that most women know already: it can take time to grow into your full potential. If you feel that you haven’t reached that potential, or if you are still trying to develop your voice and self-confidence, don’t feel bad.
You will eventually develop that voice. Once you have it, you will be stronger than ever and find that your goals or additions are achievable. Who knows? You can even become the next Melinda Gates if you put your mind to it!
24. “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Sandberg’s quote reflects a growing truth in our ever-more-equitable society. Eventually, women won’t need to worry about being judged for being female. They’ll be able to hold leadership positions just as well and as often as men. People want to be seen for their sex but instead will be recognized for their abilities. Keep this in mind if you feel that fighting for feminist ideals is still taking too long. Ultimate victory is on the way!
25 .“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron
Many women are socialized from childhood to rely on men for everything from safety to food and more. As a modern woman, it’s up to you to train yourself out of these unfortunate programs and remember that you can be the ultimate heroine of your life.
This comes with extra responsibilities. But it’s empowering fact, as well. Women are not locked into victimhood. In fact, they can be just as heroic as men!
26. “A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” – Coco Chanel
As a woman, you are a complex, wonderful being. Remember that, as a woman, you can be both who you are internally and what you want to achieve. This can be an important quote to recite to yourself if you feel a disconnect between your professional ambitions and your natural personality. There’s room in your life and your heart for both facets of your experience.
27. “I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
You’re a modern woman; you don’t have to be tied down to former ideals or limitations of femininity. But if you do like elements of classic femininity, like wearing pink or watching chick flicks, own it! You are still just as powerful as you always have been. In fact, you should take the above quote to heart and remember that you don’t have to apologize for any elements of your femaleness.
28. “Failure is a stepping stone to success.” – Arianna Huffington
Many women fear failure, especially in the workplace or the home. They may feel they will be judged or criticized unfairly, especially compared to men who make the same mistakes.
Yet it’s important to remember – by reciting this quote to yourself if necessary – that failure is an inevitable stepping stone to your eventual success. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Part of your power as a woman is your durability and resilience. You can take many failures before you eventually achieve your goals!
Regardless of your challenges as a woman, remember that you’re not alone. On the contrary, women like you have worked hard to overcome the toughest obstacles. For uplifting advice, you can look to women such as Rosa Parks, Katharine Hepburn, Simone Biles, and Tory Burch.
Recall these quotes in times of crisis when you need help or inspiration to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. Write these in your journal or lists for happiness so that you always have them on hand.
But there are other ways to get motivated as a woman, too. 1AND1’s guides on nutrition, exercise, and mental wellness could be just the resources you need to take your experiences to the next level. Check them out today.