International Women’s Day Quotes
Savvy sayings from wonderful women
By | 3 months ago
It’s International Women’s Day on 8 March 2023, a day that both celebrates the incredible achievements of women around the world and throughout time, and highlights the inequalities and struggles that women still face today. This year, the official theme is #EmbraceEquity, focussing on the critical difference between equality (everyone is given the same resources or opportunities) and equity (each person has different circumstances, and different resources and opportunities are needed to reach an equal outcome). In a world that still harrasses, discriminates against and quashes the achievements of women, women and their words persevere. Here are our favourite International Women’s Day quotes that both inspire and uplift.
Contributions from Evie McQuhae
International Women’s Day Quotes
Best known for reciting her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’, at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration in early 2021, Amanda Gorman’s poem ‘Won’t You Be My Sister?’ draws on the importance of International Women’s Day as a vehicle for liberation for all women, side-by-side, intersectionally, rather than a select group.
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.
Today, International Women’s Day is multifaceted, and the following quote – from renowned lexicographer, entrepreneur and writer Erin McKean – draws on the cruelty women still face even though so much has been achieved since the early days of feminism in the late 19th century. McKean, best known for transforming the New Oxford American Dictionary into an online resource and as the founder of online dictionary and language resource, Wordnik, wrote the following quote on her blog, A Dress A Day, in 2006.
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 rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female’.
Though best known as the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat and activist – influentially advocating tirelessly for human rights and social justice – in her own right. She once famously said the following witty quote.
A woman is like a teabag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.
After being shot by the Taliban in 2012 when she was just 15 years old, Malala Yousafazai has become a symbol of bravery and resilience in the face of oppression due to her continued efforts to promote education and equality for women and children. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, becoming the world’s youngest ever recipient. She said the following quote a year before, delivering a speech at the United Nations in commemoration of her 16th birthday.
We call upon all communities to be tolerant – to reject prejudice based on cast, creed, sect, religion or gender. To ensure freedom and equality for women so that they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.
A prominent 20th century author, the novels of Rebecca West (1892–1983) tackle topics such as feminism, politics and social issues with a characteristic wit that attracted respect and admiration throughout her life. A journalist and literary critic to boot, Rebecca wrote the following quote in her early journalistic career, selections of which have been collected by Jane Marcus in The Young Rebecca: Writings, 1911-1917.
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.
Simone de Beauvoir
A trailblazer and champion of women’s rights and equality, Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986) remains one of the most important thinkers in feminist theory, challenging gender roles and arguing for women’s rights and freedoms – naturally, she is oft quoted on International Women’s Day. In her seminal masterpiece The Second Sex, she famously distinguishes sex from gender, writing:
One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.
Famous poet, author and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou (1928–2014) is best known for her memoir I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, which explores racism, trauma and personal resilience. Though most commonly quoted when writing on social justice and the beauty of the human spirit, in her poem, ‘Phenomenal Woman’, Angelou celebrates femininity, writing:
I am a woman