Most lists of motivational quotes are dominated by words of men, the result of centuries of conditioning in a patriarchal society. However, throughout history there have also been many extraordinary women whose thoughts or actions have helped to change the world.
Some of them have inspired us with their lives, scientific discoveries, the tenacity of following a passion in a field that was considered the exclusive field of men, their struggle for human rights and their compromise.
Great women who inspire us with their life and work
1. “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller
At 19 months she lost her sight and hearing at a time when this was a conviction. However, she managed to overcome herself and became a tireless activist who fought for the rights of people with disabilities.
2. “Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.” – Hypatia of Alexandria
She was the first woman mathematician we know of, but she also ventured into the field of astronomy. She improved the design of primitive astrolabes to determine the positions of the stars and invented the hydrometer, which is why she is considered a pioneer of technology. Her refusal to accept the Christianity and deny her ideas condemned her to an atrocious death.
3. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” – Amelia Earhart
She was a pioneer in aviation and the first woman to cross the Atlantic in flight. She wrote several books on her experiences, fought for gender rights and inspired other women to develop self-confidence.
4. “No one can make us feel inferior without our consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, was also a defender of human and civil rights. She was appointed delegate of the UN General Assembly and played a key role in writing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
5. “We cannot always do great things, but we can do little things with great love.” – Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa dedicated her life to the service of the poor and the disinherited, becoming a global icon of disinterested service, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
6. “Many receive advice, but only the wise profit of it.” – Harper Lee
This American writer wrote the famous novel “Kill a Mockingbird”, which deals with racial discrimination in the southern United States of the 1930s. Although the book became a best-seller in the United States and she won the Pulitzer Prize, she always preferred anonymity and solitude, resisting the onslaught of fame.
7. “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie
She was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize and the first person to win the Nobel Prize in two different categories. The first prize received was for her research on radioactivity and the second for her work in chemistry. She also helped develop the first X-ray machines.
8. “Build a wall around your own suffering means risking it devours yourself from within.” – Frida Kahlo
The Mexican painter not only became one of the great exponents of the art of her country, but her life also serves as inspiration in the most difficult moments. In fact, Frida was forced to undergo more than 32 surgeries and, even so, retained the strength to go on and continue to paint even if she was tortured by pain.
9. “If you want to be irreplaceable, you must be different.” – Coco Chanel
Chanel was not only one of the most innovative fashion designers, she also played a decisive role in shaping women’s style in the 20th century, helping women get rid of the straitjacket of that time.
10. “There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.” – Indira Gandhi
Although her historical role is not without controversy, Indira Gandhi was the first woman to be Prime Minister of India. She was a great strategist and political thinker, seeing herself in the need to consolidate her authority in an extremely patriarchal society, she became one of the most powerful women in the world.
11. “The important thing is not what destiny makes us, but what we do with it.” – Florence Nightingale
This British nurse served during the Crimean War, playing a key role in changing the perception of the nursing profession. Her dedication not only earned her the admiration of those who knew her, but also led to a significant improvement in the treatment of wounded soldiers.
12. “The intellect seeks, the heart finds.” – George Sand
This French writer dared to do many of the things forbidden to women in the nineteenth century. She abandoned her husband and wore men’s clothes to gain access to places that were forbidden to women, particularly because of her social standing as a baroness.
13. “We never know how high we are till we are called to rise.” – Emily Dickinson
One of the most important poetesses in the United States, she spent most of her life in isolation, but her audacious and unconventional poems marked a before and after in 20th-century poetry.
14. “That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” – Simone de Beauvoir
This French philosopher, known for her relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre, also played a key role in the feminist movement, especially thanks to her extraordinary book “The Second Sex”, in which she reflects on what it means to be a woman and denounces the sexist traditions of the time.
15. “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” – Rosa Luxemburg
This Marxist revolutionary tried to bring social reform into Germany. Her writings are a fierce criticism of imperialism. Her role and influence were such that she was assassinated after a failed attempt to provoke a communist revolution in Germany.
16. “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” – Hanna Arendt
This free Jewish-German thinker who had to flee Nazi persecution, taking refuge in the United States, became the greatest scholar of totalitarianism and her ideas turned her into one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, even though she always tried to escape from that label.
17. “Never Be Limited by Other People’s Limited Imaginations.” – Mae Jemison
This American engineer and physicist was the first African-American woman to travel in space. She also served in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone and Liberia. After leaving NASA, she founded the company that developed satellite telecommunications systems, originally intended to improve medical care in developing countries.
18. “There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” – Virginia Wolf
This British writer is one of the most important figures of 20th century literary modernism. She also wrote essays that became true banners of the feminist movement, in which she referred to the difficulties for a woman to dedicate herself to writing in a world dominated by men.
19. “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” – Margaret Thatcher
She was the first woman to hold the post of Prime Minister in Great Britain, where she ruled for over 10 years. Her decisions can be questioned, but the truth is that she always tried to emphasize individual responsibility.
20. “By helping others, you will learn how to help yourself.” – Aung San Suu Kyi
This Burmese politician has spent years fighting for the democratization of her country, and this has earned her the Nobel Peace Prize. Her struggle is an example of tenacity for a cause.