[Year in Review 2019] 50 most memorable quotes by women this year

Here is a glimpse of 2019 through quotes by women who set out to achieve their goals, did so successfully, and made quite the impact.

31st Dec 2019
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As we all wait for the clock to strike midnight to usher in a new year and a new decade, we also need to take a moment to remember this year.

2019 was a remarkable year for women. In the last 12 months, we won top honours in major fields from sports to tech, acting to science, invention and innovation, activism and protests. Several women became the faces of some of the biggest movements of the decade. 

Here, we have curated 50 quotes by women from around the world who left made an impact on us, their countries, their fields, and the world.

From books, interviews, speeches, press conferences, social media posts and more, here is a glimpse of what women said in 2019. 

Oprah Winfrey quotes

“Hear me clearly: Do not edit your desires. You are here in this space, you are entering this world to want what you want, regardless of how big the dream. You may have to get there in stages, you may stumble along the way, but the journey is worth the work. And do not allow logic to be an excuse for setting low expectations.” – Stacey Abrams, lawyer

“When you listen as fiercely as you want to be heard, when you respect the idea that you are sharing the Earth with other humans, and when you lead with your nice foot forward, you will win, every time. It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but it comes back to you when you need it. We live in an age of instant gratification, of immediate likes, and it is uncomfortable to have to wait to see the dividends of your kindness, but I promise you it will appear exactly when you need it.” – Kristen Bell, actress

“There is no moment when you’re just supposed to be happy. While you wait for those moments, while you wait for the perfect job, the MCAT score, the engagement ring, your life is happening. And isn’t it enough? Happiness is your own responsibility, so attack it…When it comes to Halloween costumes, go funny over sexy. Why would you dress like a flirty nurse, when you could be a mailbox?” – Jennifer Garner, actress

“I can’t tell you where your dream is. Only you know that. But I can tell you where it isn’t. It isn’t in your comfort zone. It isn’t in your wheelhouse. It’s not where you feel safe. It’s not where conditions are perfect. It is not where you are usually right and rarely challenged. Your blossoming and your growth — which is to say, your success — is always, always, inevitably, on the other side of a risk. It’s on the other side of a bold choice. It’s on the edge, waiting for you, on the other side of your fear.” – Savannah Guthrie, anchor of the Today show

“Life is going to give you a bad turn. It’s a test. It’s just a test. And look at all the tests you passed just to get here.” – Cyndi Lauper, musician 

“I urge you to see yourself as leaders starting now…Leadership is not about the role you have in a company or whether you are CEO… it is the mindset you have, the responsibility you choose to take and the way you act every day. That is what makes a leader.” – Julie Sweet, CEO for Accenture North America

“Online, no one has acne or dark circles or a temper; no one washes dishes, does laundry or scrubs toilets. Mostly, we brunch. … But sometimes I think that when we deny what is worst about ourselves, we also deny what is best. …We forget that it is our flawed human self, and not our avatar, who creates things and reconsiders and forgives and shows mercy.” – Tara Westover, author 

“The truth is, you cannot fix everything. But what you can do, here and now, is make a decision, because life is about decisions. And the decision is that you will use your life in service; you will be in service to life. You will speak up. You will show up. You will stand up. You will sit in. You will volunteer. You will vote. You will shout out. You will help. You will lend a hand.  You will offer your talent and your kindness however you can, and you will radically transform whatever moment you’re in – which leads to bigger moments. You have no idea what your legacy will be.” – Oprah Winfrey

"And so the next time a woman and especially a woman of colour, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to their white male counterpart, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her, because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment, and not in spite of it." – Michelle Williams, actress

Priyanka Chopra quote

“Your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude. You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because many good examples have shown that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” – Luigi Soreca, European Union Ambassador to Albania

"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words and yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” – Greta Thunberg, climate activist

“This is my charge to everyone. We have to be better. We have to love more. Hate less. We got to listen more and talk less. We got to know that this is everybody’s responsibility. Every single person here. Every single person’s who’s not here. Every single person who doesn’t want to be here. Every single person who agrees and doesn’t agree. It’s our responsibility to make this world a better place.” – Megan Rapinoe, US footballer 

“I feel what I've learned through this whole experience is that women, we're nurturers. That's what's expected of us. We have our children, we have our husbands, if we're lucky enough, and our partners, whoever. But we have to find personal fulfilment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, 'I can do that and I should be allowed to do that." – Glenn Close, actress

“I don’t give a damn/What you were wearing/I don’t give a damn how much you drank/I don’t give a damn / If you danced with him earlier in the evening/If you texted him first / Or were the one to go back to his place. / People may continue to come up with reasons “why it happened” /But the truth is, I don’t give a damn. But I do / give a damn / How you’re doing / I give a damn about you being okay / I give a damn if you’re being blamed for the hurt you were handed / If you're being made to believe you’re deserving of pain.” – Chanel Miller, author

"Look at how many times you worried and you were upset. And here you are today – you made it and I’m here to tell you that you’re going to be more than okay. So take a deep breath with me right now and repeat this: Everything is always working out for me. I want to hear it. Everything is always working out for me. That’s my mantra. Make it yours. Everything is always working out for me because it is, and it has, and it will continue to be as you forge and discover your own path. But first, you do need a job.” – Oprah Winfrey

“This is a call to arms for the women who have boys growing up in their houses. We have a lot of work to undo. Mothers, sisters, and aunties, I implore you to take this little sponge, and render him sodden with humanity and an understanding of women. It will send him into this delusional world with an armour of empathy and self-assurance… All you have to do is tell him the truth. Tell him what happened to us. Tell him our whole story.” – Jameela Jamil, actress

“The point is we need to help the hard-hearted to empathise with others. Like sexual assault survivors, people living with AIDS, our trans community, children who are different or who have special needs. The women in this room tonight are putting themselves on the front line of the empathy battle, be it through storytelling, creating opportunities for those that need it most, or just unabashedly being yourself and telling other women we don’t have to apologise for who and what we are.” – Charlize Theron, actress

"We cannot confront these issues alone, none of us can. But the answer to them lies in a simple concept that is not bound by domestic borders, that isn’t based on ethnicity, power base or even forms of governance. The answer lies in our humanity." – Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand 

Deepika Padukone quote

"I'm extremely proud of Finland. Here a poor family's child can educate themselves and achieve their goals in life. A cashier can become even a Prime Minister." – Sanna Marin, Finland’s Prime Minister

"I beg people to think about how they can ratchet up their activism on climate. Not as an individual but in concert with others, in ways that will awaken more people to the urgency and with a focus on changing policy, shifting power, electing brave people who aren’t scared of bold actions in the face of this crisis." – Jane Fonda, actress and climate activist

"I beg people to think about how they can ratchet up their activism on climate," Fonda said. "Not as an individual but in concert with others, in ways that will awaken more people to the urgency and with a focus on changing policy, shifting power, electing brave people who aren’t scared of bold actions in the face of this crisis." – Regina King, actress

“We’re reaching a place where women can be everything they are and not have to pretend to be something they're not to be successful.” – Jenna Dewan, actress and dancer

“So, if anyone ever tells you no, of anyone says your voice isn't important or your dreams are too big, remember these women. They persisted and so should you.” – Chelsea Clinton, author 

“And finally, I would be forced to give the state a reason why. Well, here is mine: My body belongs to me, not the state. Women and their doctors are in the best position to make informed decisions about what is best for them. No one else. Abortion is health care, and should not be treated as different from any other health care.” – Busy Philipps, actress and host 

“I want, in a few years, in my lifetime, to have my child and my grandchildren say to me, “nogogo(which means grandma in my language), is it true that moms and dads did not get the same amount of money when they were doing the same kind of work with the same kind of training?” And I would say, “yes,” and they’d say, “no, nogogo, you’re joking, that can’t be true,” because it would sound so impossible to our grandchildren.” – Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women and Under-Secretary General of UN

“Female Coloured Bisexual. Throughout my life, these have proven to be obstacles from time to time. But now I’m fully embracing them as my superpowers. No matter how many boxes you check, I encourage you to do the same.” – Lilly Singh, Late Night Host and YouTuber

“I knew at that time I was not equipped to be a mother and so I chose to have an abortion. I chose. It was my choice and it was absolutely the right choice for me. It was not an easy choice. It was not something I wanted, but it was something that I needed, like most health care is.” – Alyssa Milano, actress, singer, producer

Michelle Obama quote

“I really believe that innovation helps you to lead, not follow.” – Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon 

“Being a feminist means believing that every woman should be able to use her voice and pursue her potential, and that women and men should all work together to take down the barriers and end the biases that still hold women back.” – Melinda Gates, philanthropist and businesswoman 

“Women don’t have any issues with leadership, the rest of the world does.” – Yasmin Belo-Osagie, Co-founder of SLAY festival

“I always consider how to turn challenges of being the only female in the room to an advantage,” – Temitope Iluyemi, Director, Global Government Relations for Africa at P&G

“We need our own sisterhood. Unconscious bias can only be addressed if the sisterhood calls it out.” – Indra Nooyi, former PepsiCo CEO 

“Ask yourself when you learn the most. I guarantee it's when you felt at risk." – Virginia Rometty, CEO, IBM

“That’s why I’ve tried really hard to authentically be myself while I’m here in this moment and in this position, because I want to show other people that there are other ways of being powerful in the world.” – Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, US Politician 

“Being treated equitably, based on ability to contribute, based on skills. Being accepted as equal.” – Ellen Pao, Founder of Project Include

“Not being afraid is very important. You may feel like you failed and there's no way to recover, but you can.” — Tara Houska, indigenous rights activist, attorney

Dutee Chand quote

“Be outlandish; don’t worry about what people are going to think about you. Don’t worry about failing or succeeding, just go for things because you think they’re the right thing. And don’t sit back in the back seat and be driven; get in the front seat, put the key in the ignition, and drive.” – Kris Tompkins, former CEO of the retailer Patagonia

“Don’t be scared of what excites you. Always stay curious about yourself and the people and places around you. Focus on the work and goals you have set for yourself, and never compare yourself to others.” – Igni Mehus, National Geographic explorer

At the start everyone was like, 'But you’re a girl.' And today, nobody cares what I am. I’m a necessity: The system needs me to help to make changes. I would say to any girl out there, that’s what you want to aim for—to be defined not by your gender but by your capabilities.” – Asha de Vos, Marine Scientist and Founder, Oceanswell

“I suddenly found that my gender came against me. People kept acknowledging the fact that I had very good technological capabilities but they weren't willing to risk having a woman in their management cadre. It was an accidental encounter with an entrepreneur from Ireland that actually saw me start my company.” – Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon 

“Don’t be discouraged in your journey. If people talk badly about you, if people say you can’t achieve something, don’t let it discourage you; let it drive you forward. Listen to yourself, listen to your gut, and listen to the people in your life that you trust. Let your passions be your guide.” – Alex Morgan, US Footballer 

“One way that we can really change leadership is by being ourselves as we are. Because whether you’re 15 or whether you’re 50 or whether you’re 100 years old, there’s always people looking at you to try and figure out how to navigate their life.” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US Politician

“Sometimes people say ‘tough,’ and I’m thinking, No, tough’s wrong. I think I’m strong; I have strength. The strength sprang from my purpose, my knowledge, my strategic thinking—and that gives me a sense of security. So that’s what I think some people recognize: that I’m not going to fold from weakness. I may concede on the strength of your argument, but I’m not folding from weakness.” – Nancy Pelosi, US Politician and two-time Speaker of the House of Representatives

“When women are trying to decide whether we should stand up, we don't know if others will stand with us. It often takes many women, arms linked, to inspire other women to speak.” – Melinda Gates, philanthropist and businesswoman 

"For me, becoming isn't about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn't end." – Michelle Obama, lawyer, philanthropist and former First Lady of USA

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)

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