Throughout history, there has been a long line of women changing the world. In this article, we’re highlighting a handful of the top female icons that have helped shape history and pave the way for more women to have success - particularly in a professional environment. Some of these names are British female icons and some others are known internationally.
We’ve split this post into two sections; the first is full of women empowerment quotes to help inspire the next generation and the second section goes through some truly powerful success stories.
There are so many names to be mentioned but we decided to have a limited spectrum hence the lack of Jane Austen and her beautiful work Pride and Prejudice. Who can possibly deny the impact of someone like Agatha Christie both as an author and a courageous pioneer? There should have been the words of Florence Nightingale or Emmeline Pankhurst here. Their fearless efforts and their incredibly difficult lives would tell us how to tackle obstacles to make one’s voice heard.
Someone like Margaret Thatcher, who was once known as “the woman who dominates the world” would have taught us so much about the grinding work when one is trying to run a country. It still amazes us how fearlessness and the nerve to take action defined her as a leader.
Whether it’s politics or business, say Jacinda Ardern or Sheryl Sandberg, these women have been creating an impact. So, settle in, make yourself comfortable, and get ready to celebrate women changing the world!
Inspirational Women Empowerment Quotes
“The upward course of a nation’s history is due in the long run to the soundness of heart of its average men and women.” - Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II is known globally as a British female icon. She was the longest-serving British monarch in history and the longest-serving female monarch in the world. Right up to her death in 2022, she was celebrated as a beacon of hope for lots of young women in Britain, demonstrating that a woman can hold significant roles in society and be excellent at them. This quote shows her view that everyday people, including women, are the backbone of every successful nation.
“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” - Oprah Winfrey
Oprah redefined talk shows and has built herself a net worth of $3.5 billion, making her one of the richest and most successful women in the world. Her quote is designed to empower women by showcasing a new type of mentality. Stop worrying that you will fail; think like a queen!
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent her whole life fighting adversity as she became an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She inspired millions with this quote, stating that women in power shouldn’t be a rarity, but rather the norm.
“If I were to say anything to my 18-year-old self, it would be, ‘Loosen up. Chill out.’” - Fiona Bruce
You will know Fiona Bruce as a TV presenter who spent years presenting the BBC News and Antiques Roadshow. As an avid feminist, she constantly speaks out for women’s rights and has been a symbol for many young women to look up to.
Paving a way in such a male-dominated industry isn’t easy, but Fiona managed it. The beauty of this quote is that it speaks directly to a lot of young girls right now. There’s often a feeling of uptightness amongst young women - it goes back to the feeling of needing to work twice as hard. Sometimes, it’s better to relax and focus on being yourself and following your passions.
“You are good enough. Don’t let anybody else take away your self-worth. You are good enough.” - Ann Daniels
This a simple yet effective quote from a world record-holding polar explorer. Ann Daniels has been to some of the most remote and dangerous places on earth, proving that you don’t need to be a man to have a sense of adventure. You are good enough, always remember that.
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” - Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was one of the foremost civil rights activists and was at the forefront of the feminist movement. Her quote is perhaps the most poignant of all. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself as a woman, particularly in the workplace and throughout your career. The impact this simple act can have on others is profound - we’re all in this together.
“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent." - Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Albright made a career out of being heard. As the 64th United States secretary of state, she was the first woman to ever hold this position. Her quote is a reflection of her beliefs; be loud, be proud and make yourself heard!
“Perfectionism doesn't make you feel perfect. It makes you feel inadequate.” - Maria Shriver
An author, journalist and leading advocate in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Maria Shriver’s quote is powerful in that it underlines one of the main struggles women have in their pursuit of professional success.
The Stories Of Women Who Changed The World
This next section will offer further empowerment. If you keep on reading, you’ll see the stories of women who changed the world…
It’s impossible to cover stories of the most inspirational women in history without discussing Rosa Parks. There was nothing special or extraordinary about Rosa Parks as she took a regular bus journey in 1955. But, one hugely courageous act catapulted her to symbolic status and lit the fuse for a turning point in the civil rights movement.
Rosa Park is the perfect example of standing up, not only for yourself but for the rights of others. This one simple act had a profound impact on society - who knows what would’ve happened if she gave up her seat?
Yasmin Green is a name you may not know, yet her impact on society is significant. As the CEO of Jigsaw - a unit within Google - her job is to address threats to open societies.
Yasmin has spent many of her years developing technology that dissuades people from joining ISIS and other terrorist organisations. This all stemmed from spending time in prison with terrorists after one of her research projects. Now, she takes this technology and uses it to counter cyberbullying, particularly against women around the world.
One of the many Michelle Obama quotes was mentioned in the previous section. The former FLOTUS quickly made an impact on the US - and the wider world - when her husband took to the Oval Office in 2008. She wasn’t content with taking a back seat, instead, she made it her mission to stand up for what’s right and make a difference.
Using her influence and power, she has started numerous campaigns to combat childhood obesity, support the LGBTQ movement, aid young women in education and much more. She has become a symbol of female empowerment that will have a long-lasting impact on the planet.
The fact that most people haven’t heard of Karen Sugar is a shame. She created the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund to help remove female poverty in places across the planet. She’s done lots of work across Africa and in other regions where equality is a major issue.
Realistically, Karen should be a household name as she epitomises the idea of trying to change the world. Spread her story far and wide - and take inspiration from what she’s achieved.
Perhaps one of the most iconic female activists of the modern era, Malala Yousafazi rose to fame after being shot in the head when she was just 15 years old. Two years later, she was the world’s youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 2014.
Since 2014, Malala continues to campaign for equality and women’s rights, particularly in the Middle East. She has had a staggering impact in her home country of Pakistan, drawing worldwide coverage to the appalling social and economic impact of girls’ education. At such a young age, it’s easy to be inspired by someone so amazing.
Angela Merkel was the Chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021. Throughout this time, she moved Germany through a terrible economic crisis, revolutionised the country’s immigration policy and was named the most powerful woman in the world.
Angela Merkel’s story is inspirational for many reasons, representing one of the few women who maintained political power in a world that’s dominated by men. She’s inspired a new generation of women to get into politics, proving that it can be done - and showing that a female voice is often what some countries are lacking.
Hopefully, you can take a lot of inspiration from all of the women mentioned today. There are so many others from Emma Watson to J.K. Rowling, whose views have impacted many, are not mentioned here. We’ve looked at some of the most inspiring women throughout history and how they have changed the world. It’s incredibly empowering to see female icons and what they have done/are doing to upset the patriarchy.
The biggest thing to take away from their experience is that women certainly do have a voice in society. You may feel like you don’t, but it’s there; you just need to find it. These women had grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness and determination. Be empowered by what you’ve read today to make changes in your own life and inspire others.