Empowering girls to understand they have the inner strength and passion to change the world can seem overwhelming – for them and us.
Girls search for reference points to understand who they are and who they can become and its during this that the influence of role models is powerful. Introducing her women that have faced adversity, shown courage and who share those experiences is a way for her to see how it might be done.
Everyone stands to gain from welcoming empowering and positive messages to reach our girls.
I’ve compiled a list of inspiring women and their quotes to inspire our girls. Scroll to read or click their name to jump to their section:
My round up of 23 empowering quotes from strong women all girls need to hear
“I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”
– Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai (12 July, 1997 – )As a teenager activist, Malala who spoke out publicly against the prohibition on the education of girls that was imposed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. She survived an assassination attempt at age 15 and in 2014 awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of she efforts on behalf of children’s rights.
“Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.”
– Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington (15 July, 1950 – ) is the founder of The Huffington Post, a news and blog site. The founder and CEO of Thrive Global, a corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform. She has been named to Time Magazine‘s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list.
“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.”
– Coco Chanel
Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel (19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971) was prolific French designer and businesswoman. The founder and namesake of the Chanel brand, she was credited with liberating women from the constraints of the “corseted silhouette” and popularising a sporty, casual chic as the feminine standard of style.
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
– Julia Child
Julia Child (15 August, 1912 – 13 August, 2004) was an American chef, author and television personality. She had a large impact on American households and housewives not only for her popular books bring French Cuisine to the US but also her television show.
Because of the technology in the 60s, the show was unedited, causing her blunders to appear in the final version and ultimately lend “authenticity and approachability to television.”
“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”
– Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Gail Winfrey (29 January, 1954 – ) is an American media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history. She has been ranked as the most influential woman in the world
“I found that ultimately if you truly pour your heart into what you believe in — even if it makes you vulnerable — amazing things can and will happen.”
– Emma Watson
Emma Watson (15 April, 1990 – ) an English actress most well known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series. In 2014 she was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill ambassador and helped launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe, which calls for men to advocate gender equality
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (11 October, 1884 – 7 November, 1962) was an American political figure, diplomat and activist. She served as the First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1933 to April 12, 1945 during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office.
She is the longest serving First Lady of the United States and served as United States Delegate from 1945 to 1952. She was called her the “First Lady of the World” in tribute to her human rights achievements.
“You don’t have to be pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.’”
– Erin McKean
Erin McKean (1971 – ) is an American author and lexicographer, interested in theory and practice of compiling dictionaries. This was a quote from her blog, A Dress A Day, has been widely shared on social media. She is a founder of Reverb and previously the editor in chief of US Dictionaries for Oxford University Press and Principal Editor of The New Oxford American Dictionary.
“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.”
– J.K. Rowling
Joanne Rowling (31 July 1965 – ), better known by her pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist, screenwriter, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for writing the Harry Potter book series which has won multiple awards and sold more than 500 million copies making it the best-selling book series ever.
Her books became the basis of the Harry Potter movie franchise which Rowling was a producer on the final films. She is the UK’s best-selling living author and recently lost her billionaire status after giving away much of her earnings to charity.
“I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.”
– Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama (17 January, 1964 – ) is an American lawyer, university administrator and writer, who was First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017 and the first African-American First Lady. As First Lady, she served as a role model for women with a focus on empowering girls. As well as an advocate for poverty awareness and education.
“There is a stubbornness about me that can never bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”
– Jane Austen
Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen’s plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
– Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou (4 April, 1928 – 28 May, 2014) was an American poet, singer, and civil rights activist. A prolific author she is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences.
The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), which tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”
– Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart (24 July, 1897; disappeared 2 July, 1937) was an American aviation pioneer and author.Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. She was also a member of the National Woman’s Party and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.
“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
– Jane Goodall
Dame Jane Goodall (3 April 1934 – ) is a British anthropologist and primatologist, and currently the world’s leading authority on chimpanzees.
She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots programme, and she has worked extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues. In April 2002, she was named a UN Messenger of Peace and is honorary member of the World Future Council.
“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”
– Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale (12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910) was an English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. She came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, where she organised care for wounded soldiers.
She was a pioneer in the use of infographics and graphic representations of statistical data and laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
“I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy”
– Marie Curie
Marie Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish scientist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win the Nobel prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris.
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right”
– Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks (4 February, 1913 – 24 October, 2005) was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has called her “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.
Parks’ willingness to become a controversial figure inspired the black community to boycott the Montgomery buses for over a year, the first major direct action campaign of the post-war civil rights movement.
“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because thats the one thats going to require the most from you.” – Turia Pitt
“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”
– Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald (25 April, 1917 – 15 June, 1996) was an American jazz singer sometimes referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella. In 1958 she the first African-American woman to win a Grammy Award. The singer would go on to win 13 Grammys in total and sell more than 40 million albums.
“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.”
– Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates (15 August, 1964 – )is an American philanthropist and a former general manager at Microsoft. In 2000, she co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation the world’s largest private charitable organisation. She has consistently been ranked as one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes.
“That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show”
– Ada Lovelace
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) was an English mathematician and writer. Most well known for her work on Charles Babbage‘s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.
She was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is sometimes regarded as the first to recognise the full potential of a “computing machine” and one of the first computer programmers. An empowering message for all girls
“One thing I would say to my younger self – you were never Little Red Riding Hood, you are the wolf’
– Abby Wambach
Mary Abigail Wambach (2 June, 1980 – ) is an American retired soccer player, coach, two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion. A six-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award.
She currently stands as the highest all-time goal scorer for the national team and holds the world record for international goals for both female and male soccer players with 184 goals. A fantastic role model to empower girls on the sports field.
To all the 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
Hillary Rodham Clinton (26 October, 1947 – ) is an American politician, lawyer, writer and public speaker. She was First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, the United States senator from 2001 to 2009.
She was the Democratic Party nominee for president of the United States in the 2016 election, the first woman nominated by a major U.S. political party. She received more than 65 million votes, the 3rd-highest count in a U.S. presidential election.