International Women’s Day 2022: Quotes from inspirational women

Happy International Women’s Day. Across the globe, today is an opportunity to celebrate the hard-won achievements of women and press for change on the many challenges we still face.

In the UK, the gender pay gap persists, period poverty remains a major problem and rights groups are still rallying for the government to take action on an “epidemic” of violence against women.

This International Women’s Day, we’ve gathered empowering quotes from women both present and past.

Amanda Gorman, poet

Amanda Gorman is the first US National Youth Poet Laureate (Getty Images for The Met Museum/)

“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.”

– from Won’t You Be My Sister?

Gloria Steinem, journalist

Gloria Steinem is a journalist and activist (Getty Images for Visionary Women)

‪”Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.”‬

– from Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions

‪”From now on, no man can call himself liberal, or radical, or even a conservative advocate of fair play, if his work depends in any way on the unpaid or underpaid labour of women at home, or in the office.”

-from My Life on the Road

Bell Hooks, author

bell hooks died in December 2021 (Holler Home/The Orchard/Kobal/Shutterstock)

“For too long the term domestic violence has been used as a ‘soft’ term which suggests it emerges in an intimate context that is private and somehow less threatening, less brutal, than the violence that takes place outside the home. This is not so, since more women are beaten and murdered in the home than on the outside.”

– from Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

“Many of us were the unplanned children of talented, creative women whose lives had been changed by unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. We witnessed their bitterness, their rage, their disappointment with their lot in life and we were clear that there could be no genuine sexual liberation for women and men without better, safer contraceptives, without the right to a safe, legal abortion.”

– from Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

Malala Yousafzai, activist

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (Getty Images for EIF & XQ)

“I raise up my voice – not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard… We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

Emily Ratajkowski, model

Emily Ratajkowski is a model and author (Getty Images)

“I wonder how many women you’ve disregarded in your life, written off, because you assumed they had nothing to offer beyond the way they looked. How quickly they learned that the stuff in their heads was of less value than the shape of their bodies. I bet they were all smarter than you.”

– from My Body

Maya Angelou, poet

Maya Angelou is a poet and civil rights activist (Getty Images)

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a b*tch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, US Supreme Court justice

Ruth served as associate justice of the US Supreme Court from 1993 until her death in 2020 (Getty Images)

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

– from a 2009 interview with USA Today

“People ask me sometimes, when do you think it will it be enough? When will there be enough women on the [Supreme] Court? And my answer is when there are nine.”

– speaking at Georgetown University in 2015

Rihanna, singer

Rihanna is expecting her first child with rapper A$AP Rocky (Getty Images)

“When women get pregnant, society tends to make it feel like you hide, hide your sexy, and that you’re not sexy right now [but] you’ll get back there and I don’t believe in that sh*t.”

– Refinery29 interview, February 2022

Dolly Parton, singer

Dolly Parton is a singer and philanthropist (Getty Images for ACM)

“I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets.”

-from Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business

Alice Walker, poet

Alice Walker is a novelist, poet and activist (Getty Images)

“Be nobody’s darling; Be an outcast. Take the contradictions Of your life And wrap around You like a shawl, To parry stones To keep you warm.”

– from Be Nobody’s Darling

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a fiction and non-fiction writer (Getty Images)

“We teach girls shame. ‘Close your legs. Cover yourself.’ We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up – and this is the worst thing we do to girls – they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.”

– from We Should All Be Feminists

Munroe Bergdorf, model

Munroe Bergdorf is a model (Getty Images for New York Fashio)

“A woman can be masculine, a woman can be trans, a woman can be intersex… a woman can be whatever she identifies as. It doesn’t make her any less of a woman.

– Vogue, 2018

Halima Aden, activist

Halima Aden quit modelling in 2020 (Getty Images for BoF VOICES)

“I say this all the time, but my hijab, it really is my crown, and it’s something that I bring to the table. It’s something that makes me unique. It shows the world who I truly am.”

Angela Davis, activist

Angela Davis is an activist and author (Getty Images)

“When Black women stand up – as they did during the Montgomery Bus Boycott – as they did during the Black liberation era, earth-shaking changes occur.”

– from Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

Rebecca West, author

Rebecca West was an Irish novelist and feminist (Getty Images)

“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.”

– from The Young Rebecca: Writings, 1911-1917

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, politician

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a US Democratic politician and activist (Getty Images)

“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.”

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is a former actor (Getty Images)

“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.”

Meryl Streep, actor

Meryl Streep is an American actor (Getty Images for TIFF)

“You could make a case that, along with the technological revolution, the most provocative, upending, destabilising, 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.”

– speaking at the 2016 Women in the World Summit

Ilhan Omar, politician

Ilhan Omar is an American politician (Getty Images)

“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?’”

Angelina Jolie, actor

Angelina Jolie is an actor and humanitarian (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images f)

“Wicked women” are just women who are tired of injustice and abuse. Women who refuse to follow rules and codes they don’t believe are best for themselves or their families. Women who won’t give up on their voice and rights, even at the risk of death or imprisonment or rejection by their families and communities. If that is wickedness, then the world needs more wicked women.”

– Elle, 2019

Serena Williams, tennis player

Serena Williams is the number 1 women’s tennis player in the world (Getty Images for LACMA)

“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.”

Amy Schumer, actor

Amy Schumer is an actor and comedian (Getty Images for Deadline)

“I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story – I will.”

Kamala Harris, US Vice President

Kamala Harris is the Vice President of the US (Getty Images)

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

Emma Watson, actor

Emma Watson is a British actor and activist (Joe Maher/Getty Images)

“I have experienced sexism in that I have been directed by male directors 17 times and only twice by women. Of the producers I’ve worked with, 13 have been male and only one has been a woman. But I am lucky: I have always insisted on being treated equally and have generally won that equality.”

-The Guardian, September 2015

Taylor Swift, singer

Taylor Swift has won 11 Grammy Awards (Getty Images)

“My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet… is that they all realise their worth and ask for it.”

Betty Friedan, activist

Betty Friedan was a feminist writer and activist (Getty Images)

“No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor.”