March 11

Women’s History Month: Words Of Wisdom & Writings

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I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”  Rosa Parks

Women's History Month: Writings & Words Of Wisdom
Women’s History Month: Writings & Words Of Wisdom

“We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.”
Emily Dickinson, American poet

When we think or talk about Women’s History Month, we can’t help but express gratitude to the many brave women who put their hearts and lives on the front-lines. Why did the suffragettes and others of their ilk take on such risks? They did because they believed that women’s lives mattered and that equality for women meant freedom for all. If those courageous women had sat back and waited for the “right” time, we’d all be waiting around in vain.

From the first women’s rights convention held, in 1848, in Seneca Falls, New York, which led to  68 women and 32 men signing a Declaration of Sentiments, to  Susan B. Anthony‘s beautifully crafted 1878 Federal Women’s suffrage amendment which passed the House of Reps in 1919 and to the historic 19th  Amendment to the Constitution, that granted women the right to vote on August 26, 1920, we have come a long way… We have come a long way in that, in the USA, we are no longer viewed as chattel or personal property. That said, there are still millions of women around the world who aren’t free to make decisions for themselves.

As we celebrate the achievements of women this month, let’s pause and consider how we might make a difference in the lives of young girls and women in our communities. Sharing family stories and passing down family history are great ways to discover new stories of female courage. Share milestones and biographies of key players in the women’s movement with your loved ones, and celebrate their work and lives. How much of women’s history is fresh in your mind?  Do you know the identify any of the women above? Who motivated or inspired your development?

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” Gloria Steinem

Women's History Month: Writings & Words Of Wisdom
Women’s History Month: Writings & Words Of Wisdom

Courageous women have called not only for the absence of oppression, but for the presence of opportunity.  They have demonstrated for justice, but also for jobs — ones that promise equal pay for equal work.  And they have marched for the right to vote not just so their voices would be heard, but so they could have a seat at the head of the table.  With grit and resolve, they have fought to overcome discrimination and shatter glass ceilings, and after decades of slow, steady, and determined progress, they have widened the circle of opportunity for women and girls across our country  Excerpt from President Obama’s Proclamation for Women’s History Month

Along the path to gender equity, many women have shared their writings, their words of wisdom, and raised their voices for the betterment of our lives. The National History Women’s Project (NHWP) has been one of the key  front-runners in ensuring that our history and our accomplishments are recognized, heard and documented. It was NHWP that, in 1987, petitioned the US  Congress to pass Pub. L. 100-9 and designate the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” From 1981,  when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 authorizing the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week,” until 1987, we had a week dedicated to our history and accomplishments. So think about how much each of us can contribute to continue the tradition of curating, documenting and sharing our achievements. What legacy of female achievement will you pass on to your progeny? What legacies did your mother, grandmother and other key female influencers in your life leave you? Can you identify any of the women above? Who would you love to dine with, given the chance? Share in the comments below

“As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold the person down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might.” Marian Anderson

Women's History Month: Writings & Words Of Wisdom
Women’s History Month: Writings & Words Of Wisdom

This year, NHWP’s 2015 Women’s History Month Theme: Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives, gives us an opportunity to share our stories and the stories of important women in our families. It gives us space to share stories of  great women we read, heard or met throughout our lives. Growing up, I was fortunate in that my parents were book lovers and they exposed me and my siblings to a wide range of books. My Dad loved historical tomes, the classics and biographies, while my Mom loved powerful storytellers and/or witty, humorous writers like Buchi Emecheta, Dorothy Parker, Nawal El Saadawi and many more. Later on, my Step-mom introduced me to the world of romance novels and sizzling investigative crime fiction books; all of these different genres contributed  something to my view of the world. The literature I read at home and at school exposed me to settings and ideas that were vastly different from mine. I could open a book and, in an instant, be someplace else, imagining myself living vicariously through the lives of the many women whose words of wisdom are included in this post.  I learned about some of them at home and in school, while others I read up on my own.   Each time I read a new piece about one of these inspiring, courageous women, I was astonished by the fact that their stories weren’t being effectively shared. If each of us shared and documented our stories, we will help increase the body of knowledge on women’s lives. Things have improved but there is room for more improvement

Did you learn about any of these champions of women’s empowerment in school? My question to you again is: Can you identify any of the women above? Share your answers in the comments. Below, I’ve pulled together quotes/words of wisdom from many of the women who led us on the road to women’s empowerment.

More Below!

“I’m fulfilled in what I do. I never thought that a lot of money or fine clothes–the finer things of life–would make you happy. My concept of happiness is to be filled in a spiritual sense.” Coretta Scott King

Women's History Month: Writings & Words Of Wisdom
Women’s History Month: Writings & Words Of Wisdom

From an early age, I spent long hours in my father’s library reading everything I could pull off the shelf; from Charlotte’s Web to Things Fall Apart, and even Frankenstein. Obviously, at that young elementary school age, I probably didn’t understand everything I read but, the seed of curiosity was ignited in me and books provided a cocoon of comfort when life took many unpleasant twists and turns. Below, I have curated the words of wisdom from many women who were trail blazers in the world. Check back in later for the curated writings that set the stage for much that we hear and read about women’s progress. Many of the authors I will share were motivators in my life and I shared their writings with my students in many of my Women’s Studies courses. Come back later/soon for my book/writing lists and updates! Are you cognizant of any/all of the women mentioned below. Who would you recommend that I include?

Women’s Words of Wisdom: Thoughts Over Time
“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
“Women should be tough, tender, laugh as much as possible, and live long lives. The struggle for equality continues unabated, and the woman warrior who is armed with wit and courage will be among the first to celebrate victory.” Maya Angelou
“Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan
“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”  Rosa Parks
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” Marie Curie
“Wherever you see men endowed with noble qualities and good dispositions, you will find a great mother who has inspired them to become what they are.” Amma
You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right.” Aung San Suu Kyi
“Women should let go of their fear and distrust – they are simply illusions.” Amma
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker
“You have to imagine it possible before you can see something. You can have the evidence right in front of you, but if you can’t imagine something that has never existed before, it’s impossible.” Rita Dove
“Activism is something no one can fake. You get angry. You cry. But you never throw in the towel, because that anger is what is propelling you to further action.” Leymah Gbowee

Women’s Words of Wisdom: Thoughts Over Time
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” Gloria Steinem
“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” Mae C. Jemison
“The rights we want; we want to choose our husband, we want to own the land, we want to go to school, we don’t want to be cut anymore, we want also to make decisions, we want respect in politics, to be leaders, Rebecca Lolosoli.
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
If it is true that men are better than women because they are stronger, why aren’t our sumo wrestlers in the government? ” Kishida Toshiko
“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Ella Fitzgerald
“If you think somebody cares about you and believes your life is worth saving, how can you give up?” Geraldine Ferraro
“You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.” Indira Gandhi
“Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.” Margaret Sanger
I don’t mind if I have to sit n the floor at school. All I want is education. And I’m afraid of no one. Malal Yousufzai

Women’s Words of Wisdom: Thoughts Over Time
“I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.” Billie Jean King
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Maya Angelou
“To me success means effectiveness in the world, that I am able to carry my ideas and values into the world–that I am able to change it in positive ways.”Maxine Hong Kingston, author of “Woman Warrior”
“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again.” Sojourner Truth
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.” Louisa May Alcott
“It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.”  Jackie Joyner-Kersee
“I’m fulfilled in what I do. I never thought that a lot of money or fine clothes–the finer things of life–would make you happy. My concept of happiness is to be filled in a spiritual sense.” Coretta Scott King
To the rongs that need resistance, To the right that needs assistance, To the future in the distance, Give yourselves.” Carrie Chapman Catt
“One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.”  Simone de Beauvoir
“Make a difference about something other than yourselves.”  Toni Morrison
“The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.” Amelia Earhart, first American female aviator
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey

Women’s Words of Wisdom: Thoughts Over Time
“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.” Princess Diana of Wales
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa
“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living. Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.”  Gail Sheehy
“It takes a couple of years just to get the background and knowledge that you need before you can go into detailed training for your mission.” Sally Ride
“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.” Audrey Hepburn
“For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.” Elizabeth Blackwell
“I rejected the notion that my race or sex would bar my success in life.”  Constance Baker Motley
“Success can make you go one of two ways. It can make you a prima donna–or it can smooth the edges, take away the insecurities, let the nice things come out.” Barbara Walters
“I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.” Susan B. Anthony
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
“If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” Abigail Adams 
“As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold the person down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might.” Marian Anderson
” Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” Susan B. Anthony
Energy rightly applied can accomplish anything.  Nellie Bly
“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” Rosa Parks
Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Rachel Carson
Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.  Zora Neale Hurston

Women’s Words of Wisdom: Thoughts Over Time
Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong. Ella Fitzgerald
Another world is not possible, She is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breating.” Arundhati Roy
I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others. Amelia Earhart
We rely upon the poets, the philosophers, and the playwrights to articulate what most of us can only feel, in joy or sorrow. They illuminate the thoughts for which we only grope; they give us the strength and balm we cannot find in ourselves. Helen Hayes
I can truthfully say I know of no other recreation that will do so much toward keeping a woman in good health and perfect figure than a few hours spent occasionally at trap shooting. Annie Oakley
If they want to hang me, let them. And on the scaffold I will shout “Freedom for the working class!” Mary Harris Jones
I have no idea of submitting tamely to injustice inflicted either on me or on the slave. I will oppose it with all the moral powers with which I am endowed. I am no advocate of passivity.Lucretia Mott
Rebels dont produce shange, because thet are fanning their own anger. You have to learn to save your outrage and focus.” Shami Chakrabati
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. Julia Ward Howe
Loosen your girdle and let ‘er fly!“Babe” Didrikson Zaharias
You are the stars and the world is watchng you. By your presence, you send a message to every village, every city, every nation. A mesage of hope. A message of victory.” Eunice Kennedy Shriver

For More: Women’s Lives & Issues 

Positive Motivation Tip: We can all make a difference in our community if we put our minds to it and share what we know…

Additional Resources

2015 National Women’s History Month Brochure

Become a member of the NWHP

National Women’s History Month Partners

Download the 2015 Gazette (please be patient during download).

Order the 2015 Gazette to be mailed to you

Find a Women’s History Performer or Author/Presenter!

Frequently Asked Questions

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Betty Friedan, Emily Dickinson,  Rosa Parks, Aung San Suu Kyi, Marie Curie, Eunice Shriver Kennedy, Leymah Gbowee, Gloria Steinem, Sojourner Truth,  Rita Dove, Audre Lorde, Amma, Toni Morrison, Simone De Beuvoir, Oprah, Amelia Earhart, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Alice Walker, Dr. Mae Jemison, Rebecca Lolosoli and Sambura women,  Harriet Tubman, Susan B Anthony, Abigail Adams, Sonia Sotomayor, Elizabeth Blackwell, Sally Ride, Maya Angelou, Indira Gandhi,  Golda Meir, Sirimavo Bandaranaikevia Wikipedia

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet


#WomensLives, 104th International Women’s Day, empowering women, inspiration, National History Women's Project, postaday, sheroes, Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives, Women's books, Women's History Month, Women's stories

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  • There are so many women throughout history who have made as much difference – if not more – as men have. It continually amazes me that women are still viewed as less than in some parts of the world.

    • Sad but true … and it is a global problem. Each country in the world has ways it diminishes women… Pay equity remains an issue in the US and we haven’t elected a woman as president. Every nation has it’s ways of limiting women.

  • You just tipped the iceberg with these amazing women.. there are so many more amazing women out there.. This in itself it quit a list!

  • This is such a great post. I love that this month is for women. Not women of a certain race or religion or country… just all of us, together. Kicking ass!

  • So many amazing women from history! This is wonderful. I agree we can all make a difference, and we should!

  • We have some incredibly inspirational women here. Thank you for sharing, it was a great read.

  • These are all such inspiring quotes. Maya Angelou is a personal favorite of mine. She had such a way with words.

  • It’s great that we live in a time where young women have female role models. I love that quote by Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

  • Wow! This is so special to see and I am inspired and reminded to hang in there by their words of wisdom – things I felt and glad to hear about what they thought and did – thank you

  • It’s great that there is a month to celebrate all of the great things that women have done in history. Without these trendsetters, none of us would be where we are today.

  • You sure know your history. Trail Blazors are the people that turn pages in history. I’m so glad to see the successes of these women and what they mean for the future of equality for women.

  • Happy Women’s History month!! I see you have a lot of great women up there!! Great choices!!

  • Princess Diana will always be someone I remember as a great role model and woman. She was amazing in her own right and left a mark on the lives of anyone who watched her. I was still in my teens when she passed and she’s someone I’ll always remember.

  • Always important to remember the strong women inour past who paved the way for young girls today!

  • I am loving reading about strong powerful women! Thanks so much for this post!

  • What a wonderful tribute to all these great women. Thanks for sharing their inspiring words.

  • WoW! interesting post. It tells you that every women are capable to do all of the job.

  • I am thankful for all the women who have paved the way for the women we are today. I love looking up to some of the women before me especially those who sacrificed their lives in order to make a difference in someone else’s life.

    • True. It’s interesting that in some countries where women have limited opportunities, they have elite women in office whose goals are somewhat different from the goals of uneducated women.

  • These are great words of wisdom! I didn’t know this whole month was dedicated to women. I just thought it was Int’l Women’s Day!

  • I don’t think enough is taught about women’s history in school. I try to find great biographies at the library to share with my daughters.

  • There are so many women that have made such great achievements and have contributed so much to society. They are very inspiring and deserve to be given so much recognition!

  • Rosa Parks, who made a difference with dignity and class, is an incredible example of women quietly exercising their power. My daughter wrote a report on her young reader book 2 years ago and still recalls most of it. She is one of the greats in women’s history.

  • What a wonderful conglomeration of quotes and pictures. Thank you for sharing in honor of women everywhere.

  • What a wonderful post about Women’s History, now I know more and had a great time reading this post thanks.

  • I love the quotes and am inspired by all the acts of bravery. Thank you for sharing this. This is a great post.

  • Very inspiring post. I really enjoyed reading it. It must have taken I along time to compose but it was well worth it in my book.

  • women power always ruled from the past to the present.we had many such great women in the past.That’s so nice we had women’s day this month.

  • Thanks for shedding light on these very inspiring women that have made their mark in history.

  • I think it is so important for our history not forget all the women whom have made such a difference in our world today. This is an amazing post indeed. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • You’ve included a lot of remarkable women in this post. My personal favorite is Mother Teresa. I live my life these days trying to be more generous and kind.

  • Ooo – I love that Emily Dickinson poem. The words and meaning are simply beautiful. I’m going to have to do something special this month. Love all of the snapshots celebrating all of the different women who have made a difference in the world.

  • What a wonderful post about women. Women has great strength, too. Too bad that there are places in this world where women are treated really bad.

    Mhar Sefcik

  • wow, you sure did a lot of research before putting this post together. thank you for your great effort to put together such an inspiring post for us!

  • Those are great women in history and thank you for giving us some insights about their lives. Maya is one of those I admire. I can’t find Margaret Thatcher in your list.

  • I always learn new things each time I’m in your blog. Those are great women in history and thank you for giving us some insights about their lives. Maya is one of those I admire. I can’t find Margaret Thatcher in your list.

  • You obviously read a lot, to have collated so much of those wisdom quotes from different inspiring women. I wish I was smart enough to do that, I did read a lot back then, but I didn’t think of noting down phrases that hit me. I’m impressed.

    In the Philippines, we have a number of brave women, too. We have Gabriela Silang and Melchora Aquino during the warring eras. Then we have Corazon Aquino. There are many current ones, but I still await of one I feel really proud of other than their accomplishments.

  • Love all the quotes by women in here. Without these women, for sure we will have a very different world today.

  • I hope that one day the world becomes a better world for women. Equality and open mind is hard to achieve but it is not possible. 🙂

  • What an empowering post! These quotes gives us an inside look into the minds of some of the most brilliant women in history. – Fred

  • Gone are the days that women are left at home to care for the family. I remember even my own mom’s story. She was a consistent honor student in primary schools, elementary and secondary (highschool), but when she was in her senior high, her mom told her she’s not going to college as women ought to stay at home and not to work somewhere else, therefore college degree is useless. My mom insisted, and when she didn’t get the support of the parents (my grandparents), she left home and studied as a working-student. Fortunately she has obtained 3 degrees, one masters, and units in PhD. I so love this post. I remember the strength embedded in women’s delicate beauty. 🙂

  • My favorite inspirational woman out of everyone you posted here is Aung San Suu Kyi, her quote will definitely push you beyond fear, and her life story is beyond amazing. BTW, Charlotte’s Web was also one of my favorite books growing up. 🙂

  • I remember Mother Teresa have thought us(upon her visit here in Phil in 1984) and I quote: “Learn things with your heart, because it is only with the heart that you find compassion.” I super love this quote, that until today I bring that with me. Another one from Mother Teresa: “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” How refreshing and inspiring. 🙂

  • Women’s role in the community would have not expanded if not for these historic woman. It’s really right to honor their contributions.

  • They are all amazing women but we can also be amazing through our own little ways.

  • Those are the best people that have helped our world and country so much. If I could have shaken any one of their hands I would be so happy.

  • Thanks for compiling this list of amazing women! My personal favourites are Oprah and Aung San Suu Kyi for their contributions to society.

  • It’s really empowering how women have stepped up over generations. Although to be honest, in my line of work, I sometimes still feel lacking for being a woman… Which I know I should change (my mindset) asap! Thank you for this post, Elizabeth! It definitely helped me feel more empowered… “When one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear,” especially this quote. I just need to think about the things needed to be done! 🙂

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