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20 Timeless One-Liners from History's Extraordinary Women

These quotes from kick-ass women are sure to inspire you.

Since the dawn of time, women have been proudly standing up for the rights of others, changing the course of history, and standing up to anyone who might try to stop them on the path toward progress. And while there have been countless influential women throughout history who have made policy decisions, influenced elections, and changed the world with their brilliant minds, a little razor-sharp humor certainly hasn't hurt, either. We've rounded up the 20 best powerful women quotes from history's most extraordinary women to inform, provoke, and, most importantly, crack you up. And when you want to get inspired, start by reading the 50 Inspirational Success Quotes That Will Energize Your Days!

On Feminism

Gloria Steinem best women's one-liners

"You're either a feminist or a masochist," the famed author and political activist once quipped. And for more famous lines like these powerful women quotes, check out the 25 All-Time Greatest One-Liners by Politicians.

On Work-Life Balance

Best one liners from women

"I have a brain and a uterus and I use both," said congresswoman Patricia Scott Schroeder when asked about her ability to balance raising children and her career in politics. And for more spot-on quotes, check out the 30 Mark Twain One-Liners That Are Still Relevant Today.

On Labels

Jackie O

"The one thing I do not want to be called is 'first lady.' It sounds like a saddle horse," Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis famously said about her title. If you want more wisdom from your favorite influential men and women, check out the 30 Best Celebrity Relationship Quotes.

On Effectiveness

Eleanor Roosevelt Best One Liners

"I have never wanted to be a man. I have often wanted to be a more effective woman, but I have never felt that trousers would do the trick," said Eleanor Roosevelt in her Ladies' Home Journal Column, If You Ask Me, in 1940.

On Fashion

queen Elizabeth and prince Phillip british royals movies

Just because you're the queen doesn't mean you have to be a shrinking violet, as Queen Elizabeth knows all too well: "I can't wear beige because nobody would know who I am," her biographer has quoted her as saying.

On Ambition

Best one liners

While few people would call Condoleezza Rice unambitious, she's not afraid to take a crack at her own expense when it comes to her political aspirations. "I didn't even run for high school president. It's not in my genes," said Condoleezza Rice, when asked about a potential run for the vice presidency.

On Prying Spouses

Obamas with boxing gloves

Michelle Obama may love her husband, but that doesn't mean she's above telling him to back off when he starts asking about her shopping habits. "Solve world hunger. Get out of my closet," the former First Lady told the New York Times. And when you want a wardrobe as powerful as the former First Lady's, start by ditching the 40 Things No Woman Should Ever Wear to Work.

On Goals

Ruth Bader Ginsburg best one liners

Sure, being a Supreme Court justice is cool, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg knows there's more out there to aspire to. "If I had any talent in the world, any talent that God would give me, I would be a great diva," Notorious RBG told students at Georgetown University. And for more reasons to channel your own inner diva, check out the 100 Life-Changing Quotes to Inspire Your Days!

On Getting Ahead of Yourself

Senator Kirstin Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand's wealth of political experience has taught her an important lesson: a lot of people eager to run for office suffer from a fatal flaw: overconfidence. "I can't tell you how many 30-year-old dudes believe they should be senator or president. Women, we're like, 'Well, maybe after ten years of working …' No. Just run for the office you want to run for and run on the issue you want to fix," she told New York Magazine.

On Confidence

German chancellor Angela Merkel

The key to getting ahead? Believing in yourself, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said of her success, "You could certainly say I've never underestimated myself." And for some inspiration from the day's news, check out Why This Intrepid Teacher's Amazing Blackboard Drawing Is Going Viral. 

On Impulse Control

Jane Goodall best one liners

Humans have a way of making ourselves seem like less evolved beings than we actually are, at least according to famed primatologist Jane Goodall. "Our brains are fully capable of controlling instinctive behavior. We're not very good at it, though, are we?" she said in an interview with The Sierra Club.

On Gender Politics

Sally Ride best one liners

Male or female, once you're in space, there's not much difference, said groundbreaking astronaut Sally Ride. "Weightlessness is a great equalizer," noted the first American woman in space.

On Changing the World

Melinda Gates best one liners

Doing good doesn't always easy, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it. "It will be difficult. But I am hopeful—because we like difficult," said Melinda Gates.

On Image

Hillary Clinton best one liners
Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knows that women's appearances are often as well-noted as their actions. "If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle," she once joked.

On Youth

Gloria Allred best one liners

Want to know how Gloria Allred maintains that healthy glow? "Fighting injustice keeps you young," the women's rights attorney is quoted as saying.

On Diversity

Senator Mazie Hirono best one liners

Noting that she was breaking ground by being the first Asian woman ever elected to the U.S. senate, in addition to being a Buddhist and an immigrant, former Hawaiian senator Mazie Hirono quipped, "Nobody's perfect," when asked if she was gay, as well.

On Taking People at Face Value

maya angelou success quotes
"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time," said famed author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

On the Difficulty of Self-Contemplation

Betty Friedan best one liners

What's been getting in the way of true political change? Our self-indulgence. "We lowered our eyes from the horizon, and steadily contemplated our own navels," women's rights icon Betty Friedan says in The Feminine Mystique.

On Bodily Autonomy

Elizabeth Warren best one liners

"Did you fall down, hit your head, and think you woke up in the 1950's or the 1890's?" asked Senator Elizabeth Warren on the potential shut down of Planned Parenthood clinics.

On Patience

margaret thatcher success quotes, insulting politicians

A little patience goes a long way, especially when you get what you want. "I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end," said Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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