In 1956, approximately 2000 South African women marched to the Union Buildings in solidarity, to petition against oppressive laws passed by the apartheid government.
This August, we’re celebrating Women’s Month by shedding light on the women who have led at the frontiers, against the oppressive structures that have silenced women for generations.
In an ode to these strong individuals, we draw on 20 perspective-shifting quotes by some of the influential women we love most…
On remembering your independence, and empowering others: “When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.” Toni Morrison
On creating the life you desire: “There’s only one very good life and that’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself.” Diana Vreeland
On accepting who you are, as you are: “The greatest victory has been to be able to live with myself, to accept my shortcomings…I’m a long way from the human being I’d like to be. But I’ve decided I’m not so bad after all.” Audrey Hepburn
On pushing through obstacles: “I’ll read you something pretty: People are unreasonable, illogical and self centered; love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, alternative motives; do good anyway. The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shut down by the smallest people with the smallest minds; think big anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight; build anyway. Give the world the best you have and you’ll be kicked into defeat; give the world the best you’ve got anyway.” Hedy Lamarr
On escaping your comfort zone: “I want to discourage you from choosing anything or making any decision simply because it is safe. Things of value seldom are.” Toni Morrison
On harnessing your life force: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy…that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist… The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” Martha Graham
On the nature of growth: “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” Anais Nin
On facing challenges: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Bette Davis
On being the change: “Pain and suffering are a kind of currency passed from hand to hand until they reach someone who receives them but does not pass them on.” Simone Weil
On embracing the chaos: “I am a great friend of chaos. It’s all we have. I mean, this whole concept of being able to manage life…life is risk, life is chance, life is being open to chance. The best things in my life, and probably in anybody’s life, come out of being open to being blown off course.” Tilda Swinton
On perspective: “Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” Anne Frank
On hard work: “You can’t just be talented… You also have to become necessary to people, by working hard and well and bringing more than your bones and your skin to the project. Don’t just show up. Transform the work, yourself, and everybody around you. Be needed. Be interesting. Be something no one else can be…and consistently.” Katharine Hepburn
On enlightening others: “I don’t want to show things, but to give people the desire to see.” Agnes Varda
On being strange: “I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.” Frida Kahlo
On avoiding stagnancy: “Here’s the thing. You have two options…They’re going to crucify you for staying the same. If you change, they’re going to crucify you for changing. But staying the same is boring. And change is interesting. So of the two options, I’d rather be…changing.” Joni Mitchell
On the little things: “The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.” Virginia Woolf
On willpower: “Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. You must be able to sustain yourself against staggering blows… That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go so much further than people with vastly superior talent.” Sophia Loren
On creating who you are: “I thought, how many new lives can we have? Then I thought, as many as we like.” Judi Dench
On self-criticism: “Put blinders on to the things that conspire to hold you back, especially the ones in your own head.” Meryl Streep
On taking a stand: “You don’t always win your battles, but it’s good to know you fought.” Lauren Bacall
Ultimately, through all life’s challenges, which seem insurmountable at times, women will always rise above, with more strength and resilience than before. Whether it’s adjusting to change, taking back control, conquering fear or living to learn and grow with others – we should be proud of the millions who have risen to the challenge and brought us this far, and we should feel empowered by the journey ahead.
Compiled by Features Writer Savanna Douglas
woman&home has a brand new attitude and offers irresistible inspiration each and every month to our audience. The brand believes that it’s attitude, not age, that matters and we speak to women in a conversational, empowering, inspirational, fun and friendly tone.