Empowerment quotes from women leaders

A gender equal society needs empowered women and girls who take control of their lives, make their own decisions, and succeed in their chosen pursuits.

So from innovators to activists and leaders, enjoy these empowering quotes from women who've made a considerable impact across society.


Madonna, singer

"To the doubters and naysayers and everyone who gave me hell and said I could not, that I would not or I must not – your resistance made me stronger, made me push harder, made me the fighter that I am today."

Oprah Winfrey, media executive

"Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness."

Melinda Gates, philanthropist

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

Beyoncé, singer-songwriter

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

Amy Schumer, stand-up comedian

"I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story — I will." 

Virginia Woolf, author

"There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind."

Arianna Huffington, author

“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.” 

Coco Chanel, fashion designer

“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” 

Gloria Steinem, journalist

"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."

Maya Angelou, poet & activist

"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."

Rihanna, singer & businesswoman

"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."

Michelle Obama, lawyer & author

"There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish." 

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO

"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." 

Coretta Scott King, author & activist

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

Emma Watson, actor & activist

"I think women are scared of feeling powerful and strong and brave sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. It’s not the absence of fear, it’s overcoming it and sometimes you just have to blast through and have faith."

Jane Goodall, primatologist & anthropologist

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” 

Malala Yousafzai, activist 

"I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard… we cannot succeed when half of us are held back."

Anita Roddick, Body Shop founder

"If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito."

Ella Fitzgerald, singer

"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."

Marie Curie, physicist

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained."

Estée Lauder, businesswoman

“No one ever became a success without taking chances. One must be able to recognize the moment and seize it without delay.” 

Nora Ephron, journalist

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”

Anaïs Nin, author

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” 


Empowering further women

Women’s empowerment promotes a sense of self-worth, an ability to determine one's own choices, and a right to influence change.

How do you continue to empower the women in your life?

Join the IWD Community