14 Women's Empowerment Quotes That Will Raise You Up

Denise Vasi DESIGN: Haobin Ye

Sunday, August 26, is Women's Equality Day, and whether you dedicate your life to protecting the rights of the marginalized or you feel immobilized by the rampant displays of injustice, we can all use some words of hope, unity, compassion, and courage to empower us further. But what does empowerment even mean, and why do we need to reach equality? Of course, different things empower different people.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as giving "official authority or legal power to" someone or something, though I personally resonate more with the Oxford Dictionary's description of it as a "process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights."

Alternatively, in the words of Marlo Thomas's 1972 campaign, empowerment simply means having the strength—not to be confused with power—to envision and actualize a world in which we are all safe and "Free to Be You and Me" (Amazon $22) regardless of identity and lifestyle. What we're trying to say is that much like the fight for justice and the resistance against hate, true empowerment is a continual, evolving, and subjective process.

As unstable as it sounds, it's crucial to building communities of care as well as self-love. Don't get us wrong; we think it's equally essential to know the statistics that reveal just how deep these issues run. But as we mentioned before, today our initial goal is to celebrate women's empowerment by looking beyond ourselves and toward the thinkers and change-makers whose words have the power to teach us, connect us, invigorate us, and fill us with hope and inspiration. Since they said it best, scroll through the 14 women's empowerment quotes below.

Oprah Quotes
Vera Anderson/Getty Images ; SOURCE: The Oprah Magazine
Women's Empowerment Quotes
Karan Kapoor/Getty Images ; SOURCE: Peace & the New Corporate Liberation Theology
Empowering Quotes
Michael Schwartz/Getty Images ; SOURCE: Notorious C.H.O
Self-Love Quotes
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images ; SOURCE: Come to Win
Independent Women
Khalil Mazraawi/Getty Images ; SOURCE: Cosmopolitan
Women's Rights
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images ; SOURCE: @emrata
Motivating Quotes
Ray Tamara/Getty Images ; SOURCE: CNN

For More Empowering Quotes, Read These Female-Penned Books:

Durga Chew-Bios Too Much and Not the Mood, Paperback $15 $13

The Empowering Quote: "There's might too in the incomplete. In feeling fractional. A failure to carry out is perhaps no failure at all, but rather a minced metric of splendor. The ongoing. The outlawed. The no-patrol. The act of making loose. Of not doing as you've been told. … Endurance is a talent that seldom worries about looking good, and abiding has its virtues even when the tongue dries. The intention shouldn't only be to polish what we start but to acknowledge that beginning again and again can possess the acquisitive thrill of a countdown that never reaches zero."

Mary Oliver Dream Work, Paperback $16 $12

The Empowering Quote: "You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." 

Bell Hooks Teaching Community, 1st Edition $44 $33

The Empowering Quote: "Hopefulness empowers us to continue our work for justice even as the forces of injustice may gain great power for a time."

Brené Brown Daring Greatly $17 $9

The Empowering Quote: "Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen."

Roxane Gay Bad Feminist, Paperback $17 $15

The Empowering Quote: "I am sharing my truth and mine alone. … Here is my heart, what's left of it. Here I am showing you the ferocity of my hunger. Here I am, finally freeing myself to be vulnerable and terribly human. Here I am, reveling in that freedom. Here. See what I hunger for and what my truth has allowed me to create. … The older I get, the more I understand that life is generally the pursuit of desires. We want and want and oh how we want. We hunger."

Maggie Nelson The Argonauts $15 $6

The Empowering Quote: "The moment of queer pride is a refusal to be shamed by witnessing the other as being ashamed of you."

Naomi Wolf The Beauty Myth, Paperback $17 $12

The Empowering Quote: "She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her."

Related Stories