It’s international women’s month, in the spirit of celebrating strong, powerful, inspiring, we have compiled 50 quotes from inspiring African women and black women all over the world.
“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference.”Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. As an elected member of Parliament and former assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Maathai pursued her political passions such as environmental and gender justice.
“Men have singled out women of outstanding merit and put them on a pedestal to avoid recognizing the capabilities of all women”Huda Sha’arawi, she created the first Egyptian Philanthropic Society for women, in addition to being the founder and head of the Egyptian Feminist Union. When she wasn’t representing Egypt internationally at women’s conferences, Sha’arawi also made time to found a school for girls and implement women-run social services
“It is no country’s destiny to be poor.”Luisa Diogo, the first female Prime Minister of Mozambique, she fought the spread of HIV/AIDS and advocated for increased healthcare access in her country. She also is a strong supporter of gender equality, and sits on the Council of Women World Leaders to promote political participation of women.
“The seeds of success in every nation on Earth are best planted in women and children.”Joyce Banda, former president of Malawi, she also served as the first female Vice President. Banda worked to increase human rights and went on after her tenure to form the Joyce Banda Foundation for education. Increasing accessibility to primary and secondary education for children, particularly orphans, makes her a woman after our own hearts.
“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Upon entering office, Sirleaf made education free and required for all elementary school kids. She has passed record-setting legislation to increase transparency in the Liberian government.
“I knew what I wanted in life and I worked day and night to achieve it, and here I am.”Tabitha Karanja is founder & CEO of Keroche Breweries – Kenya’s monopoly and gender busting beer brewer
“I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something I just had to be.”Lupita Nyong’o, academy Award winner
“There is no fixed career path. My advice is to look inwards, find your passion, find your niche and go for it! Don’t over-think it. While you are ‘thinking’ someone might launch your idea.”Uche Pedro is founder of BellaNaija.com, a company that develops and delivers exciting online content aimed at Nigerian and Pan-African audiences.
“Always have a passion for what you are doing or find something else to do. Dream, dream, dream and work hard! Results are only delivered on hours and hours of hard work. Always stay focused and resolute to your beliefs and value system. A belief in your market is imperative. Perseverance is key.”Jenna Clifford is a world-renowned jewellery designer, known for her unique designs and superlative craftsmanship.
“Don’t only learn from your mistakes, learn from other people’s mistakes too.”Ethel Cofie is a technology entrepreneur and the CEO of EDEL Technology Consulting in Ghana. As a high caliber IT Professional, Ethel has gained a wealth of technical and commercial experience across a wide range of demanding roles having worked in the United Kingdom, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone on projects for organizations like Bill and Melinda Gates Mobile Technology for Health project, the Ford Foundation’s Election Monitoring project for Nigeria and as Head of Commercial Solutions for Vodafone.
“learn to trust your intuition and pursue the areas that interest you most. Software and technology is all about creating something from your imagination. Don’t try to be like others. Use your own unique perspective of the world to generate ideas and don’t be afraid to pursue those. You must be able to come up with an idea and trust yourself enough to pursue it.”Rapelang Rabana is a South African technology entrepreneur and founder of Rekindle Learning, a company looking to improve education in Africa by turning people’s compulsion to check their phones into an opportunity to learn.
“If you followed the media you’d think that everybody in Africa was starving to death, and that’s not the case; so it’s important to engage with the other Africa.”Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author whose books give a different perspective of what Africa is and what it can be. She has written books like ‘Purple Hibiscus’, ‘Half of A Yellow Sun’, ‘Americanah’ and ‘The thing around your neck’, a collection of short stories.
“If someone hasn’t felt how it feels to eat last, to work more and to earn less, how do you expect them to support you?”Solome Nakaweesi Kimbugwe is a Ugandan feminist and activist within the human rights, women’s, civil society movements and the development sector.
“The one thing I have never been afraid of is standing before important people and speaking my mind. I represent women who may never have the opportunity to go to the UN or meet with a president. I’m never afraid to speak truth to power.Leymah Gbowee received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her contribution in putting to an end the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003 through a women’s peace movement.
“Solidarity between women can be a powerful force of change, and can influence future development in ways favourable not only to women but also to men.”Nawal El-Saadawi is an internationally renowned Egyptian writer, novelist, medical doctor and fighter for women’s rights.
“My personal mantra for success is try, try and try again. Once you’ve picked something that you’ve isolated as your passion, it must be all-encompassing. You have to stick to it. You will be met with challenges, good and bad, but the thing is to stay the course.”Jenna Clifford is a world-renowned jewellery designer, known for her unique designs and superlative craftsmanship.
“We Africans have to be able to deal with our problems. Help from outside is alright, but we have to learn to be responsible for our own attitudes.”Angelique Kidjo is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and activist. In 2002, she was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador by UNICEF. In this position, she has used her voice and her influence to reach people worldwide to discuss some of the major issues affecting the people of Africa, the spread of HIV, poverty and hunger, and conflict and war. Her organization, the Batonga Foundation, helps to fund and support education for young girls in Africa.
“Network! Network! Network! I cannot stress the importance of networking. It is very vital to growing yourself and your business.”Bilikiss Adebiyi is a Nigerian entrepreneur and innovator, and founder and CEO of WeCyclers.
“The West has taken and borrowed a lot from Africa…now it’s a renaissance: we’re claiming back what is ours and we’re adding value to what is ours, making it globally acceptable and globally appealing.”Deola Sagoe is founder of Deola and is widely respected as the leading lady of African haute couture fashion and was the first black woman to present a collection at AltaRoma back in 2004.
“I have learnt that if you face the challenges with positive energy, you are most likely to get better results.”Adenike ‘Nike’ Ogunlesi is the founder of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble the leading designer, manufacturer and retailer of designer children’s clothing in Nigeria.
“The most important thing is to trust your inner instincts. Look at what you respect; who you respect and who you believe in.”Angela Dick is founder and CEO of Transman, the largest privately owned, temporary employment service provider in South Africa.
“Have a vision and passion. Be courageous, focused and disciplined. Lastly, persist… it’s definitely not easy.”Monica Musonda is the founder of Java Foods, a food processing company based in Zambia with a mission to revolutionize the eating habits of the youth market by offering them affordable and nutritious food options made from local products
“When you dream, shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”Emelda Mwamanga is a truly inspiring Tanzanian entrepreneur who a decade ago, without any experience in journalism, started her country’s first lifestyle publication, Bang! magazine.
“the best thing about female entrepreneurs is that they have an inborn responsibility toward society and aspire to help others and enjoy doing it.”Lorna Rutto is a Kenyan eco-preneur and founder of EcoPost, a social enterprise created in response to the need to find alternative waste management solutions to Kenya’s huge plastic waste problem.
“We are very proactive. We are strong women. We are great managers. We are great policy makers. We can be a great force for Africa.”Joy Ndungutse and Janet Nkubana are inspirational sisters and co-founders of Gahaya Links Cooperatives, created to turn ancient basket weaving skills into a source of livelihood for thousands of rural women in Rwanda who were returning refugees or survivors of the genocide.
“Africa can do more than simply send its raw goods overseas …. Spinning and textile industries have nearly all closed and traditional weavers are slowly but surely disappearing. It’s a huge paradox. While millions of tons of cotton are being grown in west Africa, you can barely find a metre of finished textiles.”Aïssa Dione is a renowned Senegalese painter and textile designer who founded the company that bears her name, Aissa Dione Tissus, back in 1992 with a mission to revive Senegal’s traditional and unique fabric weaving craftsmanship
“It’s really rewarding when you can manage to turn a passion into a profitable business, and inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs along the way”Teta Isibo is the founder and creative force behind Inzuki Designs a young Rwandan brand specializing in jewelry, accessories and interior decor all produced using local craft skills and materials.
“Girls are the future mothers of our society, and it is important that we focus on their well-being“Miriam Makeba, the first black African woman to receive a Grammy Award was also a vocal civil rights activist.
“Do not be afraid to try. Fail. Fail again. Fail better. He who takes all the risks, takes all the rewards.”Maira Koutsoudakis is an internationally acclaimed interior architect and founder and CEO of the Life group of companies and Life Interiors, Architecture and Strategic Design
“In my experience, women tend to create a collective around them and then it is ‘let’s go into battle together’. For me, it is this type of collaborative, collective thinking that is useful in this industry, an industry full of innovation.”Emma Kaye, founder and CEO of Bozza, a plug & play solution for African musicians, poets & film makers to promote and sell their digital content.
Inspiring Quotes From Black Women Around The World
“The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press”Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was an African American journalist, women’s rights activist and internationally renowned anti-lynching crusader.
“The air is the only place free from prejudices.”In 1921, 21-year-old Bessie Coleman became the first African American female licensed pilot.
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist.
Don’t let anyone tell you you’re weak because you’re a woman.Mary Kom from India was the first female boxer to win a medal in six boxing championships.
“Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”Michelle Obama she was the first African American First Lady of the United States, an American lawyer, university administrator, and writer.
“Self-esteem means knowing you are the dream.”Oprah Winfrey is an American media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer, and philanthropist.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”Alice Walker is an African-American author most famous for her 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple, which was adapted to the screen in 1985 by Steven Spielberg. Also a life-long activist, Walker has supported a variety of different causes, some more controversial than others.
“When they go low, we go high.”Michelle Obama she was the first African American First Lady of the United States, an American lawyer, university administrator, and writer.
“The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.”lorraine hansberry was a playwright and writer. She was the first African-American female author to have a play performed on Broadway. Her best known work, the play A Raisin in the Sun, highlights the lives of Black Americans living under racial segregation in Chicago.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”Audre Lorde was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. She was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet, ” who dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.
“When we drop fear, we can draw nearer to people, we can draw nearer to the earth, we can draw nearer to all the heavenly creatures that surround us.”Bell Hooks is an American author, professor, feminist, and social activist.
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. ”Audre Lorde was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. She was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet, ” who dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist.
“We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make… that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.”Michelle Obama she was the first African American First Lady of the United States, an American lawyer, university administrator, and writer.
”Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.”Oprah Winfrey is an American media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer, and philanthropist
“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. ”Audre Lorde was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. She was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet, ” who dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.
“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 was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott
“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”Marian Wright Edelman is an American activist for children’s rights. She has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. She is founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund.
“There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.”Michelle Obama she was the first African American First Lady of the United States, an American lawyer, university administrator, and writer.