17 Empowering Quotes by Successful Women

Written by Fatima Mahboob
10 · 23 · 17
17 Empowering Quotes by Successful Women in the World

For the moments in which you are feeling sad or just not in the mood, here are 17 empowering quotes by successful women to give you strength. These women not only shine and excel in their respective fields, but they also inspire and encourage young women all over the world to take destiny into their hands in order to do the same.

Meet 17 Very Successful Women

Frida Khalo

“Feet what do I need you for, when I have wings to fly.”

Most famously known as a painter for her powerful self-portraits, Frida Khalo was one of the successful women that did not allow life to defeat her. After a tragic bus accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down and in a full-body cast for three months, she started to paint whilst in a full-body cast. 

After she discovered she wouldn’t be able to walk, she did not let it defeat her. Instead, she continued to live her life despite the pain. Her works of art explored the things that hurt her like, depression, miscarriage, and infidelity. The main theme of her paintings was difficulties. Most would shy away from them, but she faced her pain with her art and turned them into masterpieces that continue to awe the world today.

Michelle Obama

“Teachers, a kind word can mean the world to a young girl.”

On July 26 Michelle Obama sat down for an interview, at the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s 30th-anniversary fundraising celebration. She gave us an all-powerful reminder that despite it being 2017 we still question a woman’s abilities. That we still have a long way to go when it comes to closing the gap between genders. 

Michelle Obama has long been an inspiration for women all over the world. A graduate of Harvard law school, her teachers told her she had set her sights too high, and her goal was an ambitious one. She is the most educated first lady in the history of the United States and one of the most successful women. Though she is not working as a lawyer right now, she continues to campaign for women’s rights, for education, and empower young women and American youth.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi

“In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued.”

Aung Sang Suu Kyi remained a political prisoner for two decades in Myanmar until her release in 2010. The politics in her country did not allow her to become president of her country because of her foreign national children. Aung Sang Suu Kyi still managed to snag up the position of State Counselor.

Though she studied in Oxford and settled in the United Kingdom eventually, she returned to her politically unstable country. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., she led peaceful rallies against the military government. In spite of being brutally crushed and being placed under house arrest, Aung Sang Suu Kyi never let it deter her fight for freedom in her country.

Florence Nightingale

“I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.”

Famously known as the “Lady with the Lamp,” Florence Nightingale was born into a wealthy family. But in an era where women were not allowed to inherit, her parents expected her to get married to a rich man, but she defied her parents in order to become a nurse. In the 1820s, no less! She went on to study in Germany and then returned to London where she became a nurse in a Harley Street hospital.

Her performance was so impressive that she worked her way to a promotion to the superintendent. When the Crimean War broke out and British soldiers started dying because of disease and not wounds, she was called for aide. Gathering a group of nurses, she and her team reduced the death rate by two-thirds in the British Base Hospital in Constantinople. 

Although she contracted a bacterial disease during the war, which left her bedridden for most of her life, she never gave up on her job. She is one of the most inspiring and successful women in the world. She founded training institutes and inspired hundreds of young women to take up the profession of nursing.

Josephine Baker

“I’m not intimidated by anyone. Everyone is made with two arms, two legs, a stomach, and a head. Just think about that.”

Remembered as a dancer and singer, Josephine Baker was more than what meets the eye. She worked tirelessly for French military intelligence during World War II. She would gather information about the generals she would meet at parties. Moreover, she would also tour Europe and South America to gather information.

She also participated in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States; she spoke in the famous March of Washington where she was the only female speaker. Josephine also adopted children from various nationalities being one of the precursors of the idea that family has no boundaries. Even after her death, her legacy as one of the most successful women continues to inspire millions of women around the world.

Gloria Steinem

An iconic face in the women’s rights movement in the United States, the single child of a divorced mother, Gloria went ahead to study government when she went to college. This was an “unusual” choice for a woman back in her time when women merely studied and married. Gloria had no such aspirations. 

She worked as a journalist and as an activist for more than four decades. Recently, she sat down for an interview with Vogue in which she gave the following piece of advice for young women:

“I didn’t make this up, but: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, and you think it’s a pig, it’s a pig.” What she is trying to say is that we need to trust our own instincts and believe in ourselves. Most successful women in the world look up to her.

Isabelle Allende

“A man does what he can; a woman does what a man cannot.”

Isabelle Allende is a Chilean writer who was born into an influential family with no money. Her grandfather paid their expenses while her mother had no money. She spent much of her life traveling until she settled down in Chile. 

On a fateful day, her uncle Salvador Allende died, and she had to flee to Venezuela. She eventually moved to the United States where she started writing a letter to her dying grandfather, which would later become her first book The House of Spirits.

Her incredible writing style uses magical realism in which she mixes everyday reality with strange occurrences. Much of what she writes is fiction, but after the loss of her daughter Paula, she wrote a memoir Paula (1994)

She also founded the “Isabelle Allende Foundation” whose purpose is economic and social justice for women. She is an inspiration to many other successful women who have become writers.

Oprah Winfrey

“You are enough, and as you delve deeper into you that is enough, you will have and lead the richest, most open, fulfilled life for yourself,”

Oprah Winfrey did not have the easiest adolescence being sexually abused multiple times when she was young. She never gave up hope in the darkest of situations by rising above and beyond.

She went to Tennessee State University in 1971 to earn her Bachelor’s degree and then hosted a television show, which would become a hit, and later on, owned her very own talk show. Since then, she has expanded into her own talk show (The Oprah Winfrey talk show), and her magazine (O, The Oprah Magazine). 

Amidst all of that, she has never stopped caring about the things that happened around her. According to biography.com, “Oprah’s Angel Network has raised more than $51,000,000 for charitable programs, including girls’ education in South Africa and relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.” 

She has also dedicated her time to campaigning for children’s rights making a nationwide database in the United States of convicted child abusers. Today she is one of the most successful women in the world.

Eleanor Roosevelt

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Though Eleanor Roosevelt did not really coin this phrase, it was pcked from the interview she had given after she had refused to speak for Charter Day at the University of Berkeley California. Eleanor was one of the greatest politicians of her time and she widely redefined what it means to be the First Lady of the United States.

As the First Lady, she fought for equal rights for African Americans, Women, Youth, and the poor. She encouraged her husband to return to politics after he had been paralyzed from the waist below and unable to walk despite everyone else advising him against it. She attended Allenswood Academy in the United Kingdom with Marie Souvestre as her school’s headmistress.

Her school’s curriculum focused heavily on the social responsibility and independence of young women. She stopped studying at the age of eighteen and returned to the United States to make her social debut. She has said that it is one of her greatest regrets that she did not get to go to college. 

However, Eleanor nonetheless remains an example of the most successful women to this day. She proves what women can accomplish with education and with other women building on each other for she was one of the

Patsy Mink

“What you endure is who you are. And if you just accept and do nothing, then life goes on,” said Mink. “But if you see it as a way for change, life doesn’t have to be so unfair. It can be better. Maybe not for me, I can’t change the past, but I can certainly help somebody else in the future, so they don’t have to go through what I did.”

Born to third-generation Japanese immigrants in Hawaii, she was a witness to the violence against the Japanese in America after Pearl Harbor. After being rejected by every medical school she applied to, she was accepted into the Chicago School of Law. Here she earned her J.D. and returned to Hawaii. She was the first woman of color to be elected to Congress as a United States representative for Hawaii.

She worked tirelessly so that America could be a better place to live especially for women, ethnic minorities, and the poor. One of her best achievements is being the main author of “Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972,” which prohibited sex discrimination in academics and athletics in institutions receiving federal aid. 

Another is the “Women’s Education Equity Act” which provided funds to promote gender equity by removing stereotypes from textbooks and school curriculums and providing job and educational opportunities for women.

Both of her laws along with the feminist movement were key in opening athletics and academics for women. According to an article in the University of Chicago Magazine, in 1971-72 women made up less than 9% of law students in 2011-12 almost half of the law students, and that is just in law. 

A greater percentage of women have been educating themselves in the United States and it is all thanks to her Amendment. Patsy Mink is one of the most inspiring and successful women of all time.

Angela Merkel

“You could certainly say that I’ve never underestimated myself. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious.” Angela Merkel said this in an interview with Time Magazine. She is certainly a woman that has been underestimated all her life especially when she was living in East Germany. 

She was pursuing her doctorate in quantum chemistry where she had to be careful with what she could research. No one knows exactly why but when the communist government fell in her country, she started her political career.

At first, she was the Minister of Women and Youth, then as Minister of the Environment and Nuclear Safety. She lost an election as party leader in 2002 but eventually won it in 2005 and was selected as the chancellor of Germany making her one of the most powerful women in the world up to date. 

She remains the most powerful figure today and has been re-elected four times. We should all take a leaf out of Angela Merkel’s book and not underestimate ourselves. You can be like her and add to the list of successful women.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

“If teenage girls were given the knowledge, skills, and tools to avoid unwanted pregnancy and take control of their futures, fertility rates would drop substantially. This newly empowered and educated field could then become agents for broader positive change within their communities.”

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has not only served as Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs but also as the Finance Prime Minister of Nigeria. Under her rule, she has helped the Nigerian Economy grow 6% per annum for over three years. 

A graduate of Harvard University and later Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she rose to prominence due to her transparency policies in which she made it a rule to publish each state’s allocation every month in the newspaper. Ngozi is among the most inspiring and successful women in the world.

Margaret Atwood

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” – “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

Margaret Atwood famous Canadian writer of the dystopian book “The Handmaid’s Tale” in which she explores a reality in which women’s rights are taken away and women are segregated. I will not tell you more about the book for fear of giving away spoilers!

Her powerful story serves as a theme for many protests around the world. She didn’t coin this phrase as she told Vanity Fair, it was a joke in the Latin classes. But honestly, her quote has inspired women to take up the phrase and tattoo it on their bodies. She has inspired several successful women all over the world to fight for their rights.

Sojourner Truth

“We want to carry the point to one thing, and that is woman’s rights, for nobody has any business with a right that belongs to her. I can make use of my own right. I want the same use of the same right. Do you want it? Then get it. If men had not taken something that did not belong to them, they would not fear.”

Born into slavery in 1797, Sojourner was one of the twelve children of parents, James and Elizabeth Baumfree. Sojourner was sold at the age of nine being sold two more times, until she freed herself from slavery and moved to New York City with her infant daughter (The New York State had emancipated all slaves on July 4, 1827).

After finding out that, her son had been sold illegally in Alabama she successfully took the case to court. She became the first black woman to challenge a white man and win the case. Afterward, she started working with other famous figures of her era in an effort to end slavery in all of the United States.

She was in fact, very well remembered because of her speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” in the first Woman’s Rights Convention in Ohio, 1851 where she argues that white women and black women are not different. She continues to be one of the most inspiring and successful women.

Hilary Clinton

“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all,”

One of the key figures at the forefront and champion of women’s rights in the United States, Hilary Clinton did not have an easy life after marrying her husband Bill Clinton. She put her own career on the sidelines. If there is one thing she always refused to do, it was to refuse to let her voice be stamped down.

In the Fourth World Conference on Women organized by the United Nations in 1995, in Beijing, Hilary Clinton would reassert during the convention the need for women’s rights and serve as the first honorary chair of the American delegation. 

Of course, the American government at the time was worried it might disturb American-Chinese relations at the time. But she paid no attention and went on to make a powerful speech from which the above quote is picked. 

Hilary Clinton did what no one could imagine her doing: speak. Speak against the government that stamped down the rights of women, against the forces that try to overpower them, and remind them that women are not there to be shunned. She has made a record of her own as one of the most successful women.

Michelle Bachelet

“What’s important is that women have the right to make their own decisions and that these decisions are not controlled by anyone else.”

She said this in an interview with the Huffington Post whilst explaining the situation for women all over the world. Michelle Bachelet is the first female president in South America to be elected through a direct election. She has not only served as president of Chile but she is also serving as the current head of the UN Women.

Michelle Bachelet also suffered due to the fall of Salvador Allende’s government when she was forced to flee her country for Germany where she stayed and attempted to complete her Bachelor’s in Medicine but upon returning to Chile, she had to start from where she left off in Chile.

Although she graduate as a surgeon she was not allowed to practice in the public sector on “political grounds” but she never let that deter her and she started working for the ministry of health when her country started making a transition towards democracy until she eventually became the president of Chile. She is among the most famous successful women in the world today.

Claudia de la Cruz

“A lot of times we think the only world that fits is the one we are in, but there are so many worlds that fit into our world”

Founder and executive director of “Da Urban Butterflies” a group dedicated to empowering women to form ages 13-30. She is an educator and theologian daughter of first-generation immigrants from the Dominican Republic. She empowers women by helping them understand the world and knows how they can expand their options. They do so by focusing on girl-to-girl and woman-to-woman discussions. They recently also started making a documentary about the sexual implications of catcalls to women. Claudia is one of the most revered and successful women in history.

So with these 17 empowering quotes by successful women, we see that in spite of the fame and success we see in front of us. These women had to overcome incredible hardships in order to be the women we all look up to and admire today. By no means is this a complete list and there are millions of inspiring women out there but this is a good place to start, don’t you think?

Click here to read our previous post “5 Clear Signs You’re Stuck in a Toxic Job (and You Don’t Know It Yet)” in case you missed it. To read more about amazing lifestyle tips, keep visiting us at www.lifestyleglitz.com. We are all you need for a great and happy lifestyle!


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Fatima Mahboob