International Women's Day

Getinspired365 take a look at some of the most inspiring women who have changed the world and we pick out our favourite quotes of theirs.

By Steve Whyley / 16 March 2017
10 min read

International Women's day is is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements. On International Women's day, we pay tribute to the greatest, most influential, bravest and talented women of all time.

Princess Diana

One of the most photographed persons ever Princess Diana combined the appeal of a Royal princess with her humanitarian charity work. Many were inspired by her natural sympathy with the poor and mistreated. Her death in 1997 was a major shock to the whole world and sent the world into an unprecedented collective mourning. 

Diana had a quality about her that allowed her to transcend class which earned her the name of the 'People's Princess'. The work that she did lives on in her children today and she'll be forever remembered for the kindness that she displayed at every turn.

“CARRY OUT A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS, WITH NO EXPECTATION OF REWARD, SAFE IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT ONE DAY SOMEONE MIGHT DO THE SAME FOR YOU."

Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto was born in 1953 and was tragically assassinated aged just 54. Bhutto was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan and the first female premier the country has ever had. She was also the first woman to be democratically elected as the head of any Muslim nation.

She earned the nickname "Iron Lady" for her tough rhetoric and she introduced a raft of capitalist policies which led to industrial development and growth. However, this was to prove a temporary success and when recession and high unemployment kicked in her dismissal became inevitable.

On 27th December, she was leaving a rally in Rawalpindi just weeks before the General Election where she was tragically assassinated in a bombing.

She changed the lives of women forever in Pakistan and allowed women to step out of the shadow of men. Whilst Bhutto's policies may or may not be still felt today, what is not in doubt is her legacy to the advancement of women in Pakistan.

Audrey Hepburn

Hepburn's elegance and chic became an ideal. Blessed with huge, dark eyes - 'enormous heron's eyes', Cecil Beaton called them - delicate bone structure and engaging, elfin smile, she radiated a fragile, sparrowish beauty which won admiration without either giving or receiving menace. Her appeal lay precisely in the fact that she never set herself up as a sex symbol, and laid no claim to the crown of a screen goddess.

Again, she was a woman who women could relate to and she carried herself with class. She is still very much revered today.

“NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE, THE WORD ITSELF SAYS 'I'M POSSIBLE'!”

Anne Frank

Anne Frank is one of the most famous Jewish victims of the Holocaust because of the diary she kept during her time in hiding before being captured by the Nazis. She was only 13 years old when she and her family went into hiding. The writings from the two years she spent in such close proximity to her family was discovered and published by her father, Otto Frank and continue to touch people today.

You can still visit her famous hideout in Amsterdam where there's a museum dedicated to her. 

Anne's impact is still felt today. The Anne Frank trust was created in 990, it uses Anne's life and inspirational message as an anchor to educate people about damage caused by all forms of prejudice and discrimination. The Trust enters the lives of young people across the country when they are likely to be at their most vulnerable and impressionable and imbues in them the importance of positive attitudes, personal responsibility and respect for others.

“HOW WONDERFUL IT IS THAT NOBODY NEED WAIT A SINGLE MOMENT BEFORE STARTING TO IMPROVE THE WORLD.”

Jane Austen

One of the most popular female authors Jane Austen wrote several novels, which remain highly popular today. These include “Pride and Prejudice” “Emma” and “Northanger Abbey”. Jane Austen wrote at a time when female writers were very rare. Most of her early books were written under a pseudonym. She paved the way for the next generation of female writers. J.K. Rowling cites her as a major inspiration and Rowling herself has gone on to inspire women everywhere.

Signature of Jane Austen. Taken from her 1817 will.
“THE PERSON, BE IT GENTLEMAN OR LADY, WHO HAS NOT PLEASURE IN A GOOD NOVEL, MUST BE INTOLERABLY STUPID.”

Susan Anthony

Susan Anthony campaigned against slavery and for the promotion of women’s and workers rights. She began campaigning within the temperance movement and this convinced her of the necessity for women to have the vote. She toured the US giving countless speeches on the subjects of human rights.

She was a fierce activist who paved the way for women's rights and is viewed as a key figure in U.S. History. The New York Times included in their obituary of Anthony "Susan Brownell Anthony was a pioneer leader of the cause of woman suffrage, and her energy was tireless in working for what she considered to be the best interests of womankind. At home and abroad she had innumerable friends, not only among those who sympathized with her views, but among those who held opinions radically opposed to her."

Florence Nightingale

By serving in the Crimean war Florence Nightingale was instrumental in changing the role and perception of the nursing profession. Her dedicated service won widespread admiration and led to a significant improvement in the treatment of wounded soldiers

Unsurprisingly, a museum has been opened to dedicate her incredible work. In their own words, The Florence Nightingale Museum celebrates the life and work of the world’s most famous nurse. Located on the banks of the river Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament, the museum attracts visitors from all over the world who want to learn more about the Lady with the Lamp and her Victorian world. We also examine Florence’s legacy, her influence on nursing today and the continuing relevance of her work.

The Museum's pages go on to say that her greatest achievement was to transform nursing into a respectable profession for women and in 1860, she established the first professional training school for nurses, the Nightingale Training School at St Thomas' Hospital.

She campaigned tirelessly to improve health standards, publishing over 200 books, reports and pamphlets on hospital planning and organisation which are still widely read and respected today, including her most famous work Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not.

Florence's influence on today's nursing ranges from her ward designs (known as Nightingale Wards), which were developed in response to her realisation that hospital buildings themselves could affect the health and recovery of patients, through to pioneering infection control measures and the championing of a healthy diet as a key factor for recovery. Florence also believed in the need for specialist midwifery nurses and established a School of Midwifery nursing at King's College Hospital which became a model for the country.

“I ATTRIBUTE MY SUCCESS TO THIS - I NEVER GAVE OR TOOK ANY EXCUSE."

Emmeline Pankhurst

A British suffragette, Emily Pankhurst dedicated her life to the promotion of women’s rights. She explored all avenues of protest including violence, public demonstrations and hunger strikes. She died in 1928, 3 weeks before a law giving all women over 21 the right to vote

The Pankhurst Centre was created as a result of Emily's incredible work. Their mission is: 

"To ensure that the powerful story of the women who won the vote continues to inspire those who dare to challenge gender inequality and the violence and social injustice this fosters.

To work to ensure that people suffering, or at risk of, domestic abuse receive appropriate support."

“MEN MAKE THE MORAL CODE AND THEY EXPECT WOMEN TO ACCEPT IT. THEY HAVE DECIDED THAT IT IS ENTIRELY RIGHT AND PROPER FOR MEN TO FIGHT FOR THEIR LIBERTIES AND THEIR RIGHTS, BUT THAT IT IS NOT RIGHT AND PROPER FOR WOMEN TO FIGHT FOR THEIRS.”


Marilyn Monroe

Probably the most celebrated of all actresses, Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on Tuesday, June 1st, 1926, in Los Angeles General Hospital. Her childhood was far from straighforward. Her mother was a filmcutter at RKO Studios who, widowed and mentally ill, abandoned her to sequence of foster homes. She was almost smothered to death at two, nearly raped at six. Despite this horrendous start Monroe became a celebrated actress for over a decade and her films grossed over $200 million at the box office. She's still a major popular icon today and is still an inspiration to many.

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan is a leading feminist of the 1960's. Her book “The Feminine Mystique” became a best seller and received both lavish praise and intense criticism. Betty Frieden campaigned for an extension of female rights and an end to sexual discrimination. The Jewish Women's Archive say that Betty Friedan is considered by many as the “mother” of the second wave of modern feminism, activist and writer Betty Friedan was one of the most influential feminist leaders of the second half of the twentieth century, a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and its first president. She served on the boards of leading women’s organizations, fought for legislation to ensure women’s equality and wrote books analyzing women’s role in society and the women’s movement.

“AGING IS NOT 'LOST YOUTH' BUT A NEW STAGE OF OPPORTUNITY AND STRENGTH.”

Simone de Beauvoir

One of the leading existentialist philosophers of the twentieth Century Simone de Beauvoir developed a close personal and intellectual relationship with Jean Paul Satre. Simone de Beauvoir radicalised philosophy. In particular her book “The Second Sex” depicted the traditions of sexism that dominated society and history. The book was received to both intense praise and criticism. It was a defining book for the feminist movement

“ONE IS NOT BORN, BUT RATHER BECOMES, A WOMAN.”

Ameila Earhart

Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1928, just one year after the first ever crossing made by Charles Lindeburg. It was a significant achievement in itself but also significant for being achieved in a male dominated field.

“NEVER INTERRUPT SOMEONE DOING SOMETHING YOU SAID COULDN'T BE DONE.”

Oprah Winfrey

Through the power of media, Oprah Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world. As supervising producer and host of the top-rated, award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show, she has entertained, enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers for the past two decades. Her accomplishments as a global media leader and philanthropist have established her as one of the most respected and admired public figures today.

Oprah has her own website that provides inspiration daily to people all around the world.

“THE BIGGEST ADVENTURE YOU CAN EVER TAKE IS TO LIVE THE LIFE OF YOUR DREAMS."

Marie Curie

Marie Curie was the first women to receive the Nobel Prize and the first person to win it for 2 separate categories. Her first award was for research into radioactivity (Physics 1903). Her second Nobel prize was for Chemistry in 1911. A few years later she also helped develop the first X ray machines.

Marie Curie is now a charity in the UK and helps over 40,000 people a year. They provide care and support for people living with any terminal illness, and their families. According to their website:  "The charity's origins are linked to the Marie Curie Hospital. 

This pioneering hospital, opened in 1930 by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, specialised in the "radiological treatment of women suffering from cancer and allied diseases". It was staffed by medical women, and cared for 700 patients a year in 39 beds, with facilities for radium and x-ray therapy, and modern pathological and research laboratories.

In 1944, most of the hospital was destroyed by a direct hit in an air raid. It took three weeks to recover the hospital's radium sources, which were stored in steel cylinders in the floor.

In 1948, five members of the re-establishment committee set up to oversee rebuilding of the hospital decided to separate themselves from the new NHS. Instead, they sought to perpetuate the name of Marie Curie in the charitable medical field.

The Marie Curie International Memorial was formally established on 6 July 1948, and shortly afterwards became the Marie Curie Memorial Foundation. This was the beginning of the charity that is now known as Marie Curie."

Curie's impact is quite unbelievable - she's helped saved the lives of millions of people and she remains an inspiration, and will do forever more.

“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.”

ROSA PARKS

Rosa Parks refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man indirectly led to some of the most significant civil rights legislation of American history. She sought to play down her role in the civil rights struggle but for her peaceful and dignified campaigning she became one of the most well respected figures in the civil rights movements.

Obama celebrated the sixty year anniversary of Rosa Parks’s famous bus boycott back on 1st December 2015. He said of Parks "

“Rosa Parks held no elected office. She was not born into wealth or power. Yet sixty years ago today, Rosa Parks changed America,” Obama said in a statement.

Obama said Parks’s refusal “was the simplest of gestures, but her grace, dignity, and refusal to tolerate injustice helped spark a Civil Rights Movement that spread across America.”

“Like so many giants of her age, Rosa Parks is no longer with us. But her lifetime of activism — and her singular moment of courage — continue to inspire us today,” Obama said.

“Because Rosa Parks kept her seat, thousands of ordinary commuters walked instead of rode," he continued. "Because they walked, countless other quiet heroes marched. Because they marched, our union is more perfect.”

These are just some of the women who have helped change our world. Their legacy is great and their impact endless and it is only right that we celebrate women everywhere today, on International Women's Day. 


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