Quotations by Women
by Women

Julia Ward Howe

by Julia Ward Howe
(May 27, 1819–
October 17, 1910)

Mothers Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have breasts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Muriel Rukeyser

Always our wars
have been our
of weakness.

Muriel Rukeyser (The Life of Poetry)

Ilene CummingsWomen overfill their lives in order
to feel needed, wanted and important
instead of getting to know themselves deeply
and appreciating the greatness of who they are
in each moment of understanding that
a meangful life comes from within --
from getting to know yourself
at the deepest level.

Dr. Ilene Cummings, Author
The Lavendar Lace Bra

Sr. Joan ChittisterThe moment a woman comes home to herself,
the moment she knows that
she has become a person of influence,
an artist of her life, a sculptor of her universe,
a person with rights and responsibilities
who is respected and recognized,
the resurrection of the world begins.

—Sister Joan Chittister, OSB (1936 - )
Benedictine nun and Chair, Global Peace Initiative of Women

Katha Pollitt
“When you consider that God could have commanded anything he wanted--anything!--the Ten [Commandments] have got to rank as one of the great missed moral opportunities of all time. How different history would have been had he clearly and unmistakably forbidden war, tyranny, taking over other people's countries, slavery, exploitation of workers, cruelty to children, wife-beating, stoning, treating women--or anyone--as chattel or inferior beings.”

-- Katha Pollitt (1949-), "Stacked Decalogue,"
The Nation, September 22, 2003

Myss Quote

“To the wrongs that need resistance,
To the right that needs assistance,
To the future in the distance,
Give yourselves.”

– Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947)
Women's Suffrage Leader

(As president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association,
Catt revitalized the flagging suffrage movement and in the space of just four years
her "Winning Plan" succeeded where all other approaches had failed,
and the 19th Amendment was ratified in the U.S. Senate
on June 4, 1919. On Aug. 18, 1920 it became law)

Martha GrahamThere is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action,
and there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique, and if you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost.
The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is,
not how it compares with other expression.
It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly,
to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you

Martha Graham (1894-1991)

Harriet Tubman

I was the conductor of the
Underground Railroad for eight years,
and I can say what most conductors can't say:
I never ran my train off the track and
I never lost a passenger.

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)
Slave, liberator of slaves and spy

Vivian Greene
Life's not about
waiting for the storms
to pass... 

It's about learning
to dance in
the rain.

~ Vivian Greene

Alice Walker Quote

Theresa Heinz KerryWe need to honor women in all their complexity.
It's time that we acknowledge the wisdom women have acquired
by managing the chaos of daily life.
Women are realists, the glue that holds society together.
They bring a reverence to life that's instinctual,  not just intellectual. 

—Teresa Heinz Kerry

Marianne WilliamsonThere is a collective force rising up on the earth today,
an energy of the reborn feminine...
This is a time of monumental shift, from the male dominance
of human consciousness back to a balanced relationship
between masculine and feminine.
—Marianne Williamson, Author (from A Woman's Worth)

Mary Oliver Quote

Molly Ivins
So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds,
but don't you forget to have fun doin' it.
Lord, let your laughter ring forth.
Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats,
rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce.
And when you get through kickin' ass
and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight,
be sure to tell those who come after
how much fun it was."

Molly Ivins, Author (1944-2007)
Quote from "The Fun's in the Fight"
column for Mother Jones, 1993)

Elisabet Sahtouris

I have gained and sustained my optimism
as a humble student of our living universe, our living Earth, which clearly shows us the way out of our
adolescent crisis into a mature global future.  
The sooner we create our vision of all we desire,
set our intention to implement it together,
and put our individual capacities into collective action,
the greater our chances of success. 

—Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris, Evolution Biologist


Elizabeth BlackwellFor what is done or learned by one class of women becomes,
by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.
—Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D. (1821-1910)
(The first woman in the U.S. to become a physician)

Susan B. AnthonyThe day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer,
not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation.
Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship,
the ideal union between the sexes that shall result
in the highest development of the race.

—Susan B. Anthony, Suffragist 1820-1906

Debbie FordOur difficulties launch us into new states of consciousness
where we are inspired to step out of the reality
of our smallest thoughts and step into
the limitless freedom of our biggest dreams.

—Debbie Ford, Author 

Angela Monet


"The difference between
involvement and commitment
is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast:
the chicken was involved,
the pig was committed."

~Martina Navratilova
World Tennis Champ


Louisa May AlcottFar away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.
I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty,
believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."

—Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) American Novelist

May SartonHelp us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit,
who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth,
and without light nothing flowers.

May Sarton (1912-1995) American Poet and Novelist

Maya AngelouA woman in harmony with her spirit
is like a river flowing.

She goes where she will without pretense
and arrives at her destination prepared
to be herself and only herself.

—Maya Angelou, Author & Poet,

Jean BolenTo know how to choose a path with heart
is to learn how to follow intuitive feeling.
Logic can tell you superficially where
a path might lead to, but it cannot
judge whether your heart will be in it.

—Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD

The Ancient Ones

We say the time of waiting is over.
We say the silence has been broken.
We say there can be no forgetting now.
We say
We are the bones
of your grandmother's grandmothers.
We have returned now.
We say you cannot forget us now
We say we are with you
And you are us.

—Patricia Reis, Author
from The Ancient Ones

Lily Tomlin
Why is it when we talk to God we are said to be praying,
And when God talks to us we're said to be schizophrenic?

—Lily Tomlin
, Comedian

Winona LaDukeIt is essential to collectively struggle to recover our status as Daughters of the Earth. In that is our strength, and the security, not in the predator, but in the security of our Mother, for our future generations. In that we can insure our security as the Mothers of our Nations.

Winona LaDuke
(Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate-2000 Election)

Jane Goodall
A book came out recently written by scientists
and environmentalists that made me so angry.
It said the only thing we have to worry about is big industry.
Each individual who tries to make his or her own environment better is useless.
I find this criminal, because then you have a billion people all saying,
"It doesn't matter what I do because I'm just one person."
But if you turn that around and a billion people say,
"What I do does make a difference,"
then it will make a difference.

Jane Goodall, Primatologist

Erma BombeckWe've got a generation now who were born with semiequality. They don't know how it was before, so they think, this isn't too bad. We're working. We have our attaché cases and our three-piece suits. I get very disgusted with the younger generation of women. We had a torch to pass, and they are just sitting there. They don't realize it can be taken away. Things are going to have to get worse before they join in fighting the battle.

Erma Bombeck, Author (1927-1996)

Virginia RamirezMaybe the things we're working on today
won't bring about changes for years.
But, it's just as important that we do them.

— Virginia Ramirez,
Co-Chair, Communities Organized
for Public Service (COPS)

Laurel thatcher Ulrich

Raicho HiratsukaWomen, please let your own sun,
your concentrated energy,
your own submerged authentic vital power
shine out from you.
We are no longer the moon,Today we are truly the sun,
We will build shining golden cathedrals
at the top of crystal mountains,
East of the Land of the Rising Sun.
Women, when you paint your own portrait,
do not forget to put the golden dome at
the top of your head.

Raicho Hiratsuka (1887-1971)
(From Women's Manifesto 1911 translated by Mayumi Oda)

Mother Teresa

Naomi StephanYou have a calling which exists
only for you and which
only you can fulfill.

Dr. Naomi Stephan, Composer

Margaret MeadIf we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities. We must weave a social fabric in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead, Anthropoligist (1901 to 1978)

Joanna MacyThere are the holding actions,
the changing actions,
and the vision of the future —
what we want to see happen for the Earth.
All are essential.

Joanna Macy, Author

Susan B Anthony

Rachel Naomi RemenTo seek approval is to have no resting place, no sanctuary.
Like all judgment, approval encourages a constant striving.
It makes us uncertain of who we are and of our true value.
Approval cannot be trusted. It can be withdrawn
at any time no matter what our track record has been.
It is as nourishing of real growth as cotton candy.
Yet many of us spend our lives pursuing it.

—Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, Author

Katharine Graham
The thing women must do to rise to power
is to redefine their femininity.

Once, power was considered a masculine attribute.
In fact, power has no sex.

~ Katharine Graham (1917-2001)
President of the Washington Post

Matilda Joslyn GageThe women of today are the thoughts of their
mothers and grandmothers, embodied, and made alive.
They are active, capable, determined and bound to win.
They have one thousand generations back of them ...
Millions of women, dead and gone
are speaking through us today.
— Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826 - 1898)
from National Citizen and Ballot Box- 1889
— a newspaper she founded and edited.

Dawna MarkovaI will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed,
goes to the next as blossom
and that which comes to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
Dawna Markova, Author of Open Mind

Mary AustinWhat women have to stand on squarely
[is] not their ability to see the world
in the way men see it,
but the importance and validity
of their seeing it in some other way.
— Mary Austin (1868-1934)
Young Woman Citizen (1918)

Virginia WoolfAs a woman, I have no country.
As a woman, I want no country.
As a woman, the whole world is my country.”

—Virginia Woolf
Three Guineas

Edith WhartonThere are two ways
of spreading light:
to be the candle
or the mirror
that reflects it.

— Edith Wharton
(1862 - 1937)

Anne Frank

I am daughter, sister, mother in thousands of generations of women,
women whose skills created peaceful and bountiful civilizations,
women who preserved remnants of our knowledge
when the civilizations passed.

I am a woman. In me lives the knowledge and experience of all
beings. I can use that knowledge and experience to create a loving,
spontaneous world.

I am a woman, a part of and the whole of the first circle, the circle
that transcends space and time, the circle of women joined.
I am woman, a human being of extraordinary strength,
wisdom and grace.
And this is true.

Ann Valliant and The Womancraft Guide Manual Collection

Audre LordeWhat are the words you do not yet have?
What do you need to say?
...for it is not difference which immobilizes us,
but silence.
And there are so many silences to be broken.

— Audre Lorde, Poet (1934-1992)

Nellie McClungNever apologize,
never retreat,
never explain.
Get the thing done
and let them howl.

~Nellie McClug (1873-1951) Canadian suffragist and writer.
(She was one of the people most influential and active
in obtaining the vote for women in Canada in 1918

Anais NinAnd the day came
when the risk it took
to remain tight inside the bud
was more painful
than the risk it took to blossom.
Anais Nin (1903-1977)
American Author


Debbie Ford

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Because man and woman
are the complement of one another,
we need woman's thought in
national affairs to make
a safe and stable government.

~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)
President National American Woman
Suffrage Association

Kishida ToshikoIf it is true that men
are better than women
because they are stronger,
why aren't our sumo wrestlers
in the government?

~ Kishida Toshiko (1863-1901)


Barbara J WinterWhen I come to the edge
of all the light I know,
and am about to step off
into the darkness of the unknown.
Faith is knowing
one of two things will happen:
either there will be something solid to stand on
or I will be taught how to fly.

Barbara J. Winter, author

Ayn RandThe world you desire can be won.
It exists,
it is real,
it is possible,
it is yours.

Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
Russian-born American Author

Cicely Tyson
Challenges make you discover
things about yourself that you
never really knew.
They're what make the instrument stretch
— what make you go beyond the norm.

— Cicely Tyson, actor


Eleanor Roosevelt

Emily Dickenson Portrait
The world
spreads out
on either side
no farther
than the heart
is wide.

~ Emily Dickenson

Do not follow where the path may lead.
Go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail.
Muriel Strode

Rebecca WestI 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.
Rebecca West (1892-1983)
The Clarion, 1913,

Bella AbzugThe test for whether or not
you can hold a job should not be
the arrangement of your

~ Bella Abzug (1920-1998)
Attorney and Congresswoman

Alice Paul

Huda Shaarawi
Men have singled out women
of outstanding merit
and put them on a pedestal
to avoid recognizing
the capabilities of
all women.
Huda Shaarawi (1879-1947),
Egyptian writer and
women's rights organizer, 1924

Betty FriedanWhen she stopped conforming
to the conventional picture of femininity
she finally began to enjoy
being a woman.

~ Betty Friedan

Louise Hay

A Pledge of Allegiance to the Family of Earth

I pledge allegiance to the Earth,
and to the flora, fauna
and human life that it supports,one planet, indivisible,
with safe air, water and soil,
economic justice, equal rights
and peace for all.

Women's Environment and Development
Organization of the Women's Foreign Policy Council

Abigail Scott DuniwayThe young women of today, free to study, to speak, to write, to choose their occupation, should remember that every inch of this freedom was bought for them at a great price. It is for them to show their gratitude by helping onward the reforms of their own times, by spreading the light of freedom and of truth still wider. The debt that each generation owes to the past it must pay to the future.
Abigail Scott Duniway (1834-1915)
suffrage organizer in the Pacific Northwest

Eleanor RooseveltYou gain strength, courage, and confidence
by every experience in which
you really stop to look fear in the face.
You must do the thing
which you think you
cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. — Corrie Ten Boom Worry does not empty
tomorrow of its sorrow;
it empties today
of its strength.

Corrie Ten Boom  (1892-1983)

Harriet Rubin
Freedom is actually a bigger game than power.
Power is about what you can control.
Freedom is about what you can unleash.
Harriet Rubin, Author


Anundhati Roy

Marian Wright EdelmanWe must not,
in trying to think about how we can
make a big difference,
ignore the small daily difference
we can make which, over time,
add up to big differences that
we often cannot foresee.
Marian Wright Edelman
lawyer, educator, activist, reformer, children's advocate

Charlotte WhittonWhatever women do
they must do twice as well as men
to be thought half as good.
Luckily, this is not difficult.
~Charlotte Whitton