International Women’s Day 2023: quotes and sayings from inspirational British women

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International Women’s Day is an annual event held on 8 March, with 2023’s theme being #EmbraceEquity

Every year, across the world we celebrate women’s achievements on International Women’s Day.

It’s a time when we can reflect and be grateful for the women who have shaped our society, and those who have helped us in our personal and professional lives.

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Taking place on 8 March, the theme of this year’s awareness day is #EmbraceEquity. The IWD website reads: “Equity isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA. And it’s critical to understand the difference between equity and equality.

“The IWD 2023 campaign theme drives worldwide understanding of why equal opportunities aren’t enough!”

Members of the National Women's Liberation Movement, on an equal rights march from Speaker's Corner to No.10 Downing Street, to mark International Women's Day, London, 6th March 1971Members of the National Women's Liberation Movement, on an equal rights march from Speaker's Corner to No.10 Downing Street, to mark International Women's Day, London, 6th March 1971
Members of the National Women's Liberation Movement, on an equal rights march from Speaker's Corner to No.10 Downing Street, to mark International Women's Day, London, 6th March 1971 | Getty Images

To mark the day, we have compiled a list of 26 quotes from inspirational British women who inspire us and have helped fight for equality.

1. “Women are tired of ‘presenting’ themselves; we just want to be who we are.”

- Michaela Coel, actress and writer

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2. “I see the portrayal of any believable female character as feminist.”

- Phoebe Waller-Bridge, actress and writer

3. “I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines. I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that.”

- Adele, singer

4. “Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.”

- Dorris Lessing, novelist

5. “If people were silent nothing would change.”

- Malala Yousafzai, activist

6. “Unless I am allowed to tell the story of my life in my own way, I cannot tell it at all.”

- Mary Seacole, nurse and businesswoman

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7. “As the world recovers, it’s our collective responsibility to rebuild an inclusive and sustainable future for all.”

- Shani Dhanda, disability activist 

8. “We must never give up hope. The protests the world over this year have filled me with a strange optimism for our future.”

- Jackie Kay, poet

9. “Mathematical science shows what is. It is the language of unseen relations between things. But to use and apply that language, we must be able to fully appreciate, to feel, to seize the unseen, the unconscious.”

- Countess Ada Lovelace, mathematician and writer

10. “Had I been a man I might have explored the Poles or climbed Mount Everest, but as it was my spirit found outlet in the air”

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- Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia

11. “In my experience, being busy and working hard is the key to sanity/happiness.”

- Jemima Goldsmith, screenwriter

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12. “I think every woman in our culture is a feminist. They may refuse to articulate it, but if you were to take any woman back 40 years and say, ‘is this a world you want to live in? ‘ they would say, ‘no’.”

- Helen Mirren, actress

13. “It is a fact, that numbers even of moral and religious people have permitted themselves to accept and condone in man what is fiercely condemned in woman.”

- Josephine Butler, campaigner for Women’s rights

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14. “We want to empower women to do exactly what they want, to be true to themselves, to have the opportunities to develop. Women should feel free. There is no typical feminist, there is nothing anywhere that says you have to meet a certain [set of] criteria.”

- Emma Watson, actress

15. “Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back.”

- Princess Diana 

16. “What makes a person is the ability to look at themselves and deal with their own lives.”

- Naomi Campbell, model

17. “As women, we may not be a minority, but there is a bond that we all share. It is not a bond of geography. Or religion. Or culture. It is a bond of shared experience - experiences that only women go through and struggles that only women face.”

- Amal Clooney, barrister

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18. “If we’re all living in ourselves and mistaking it for life, then we’re devaluing and desensitizing life.”

- Thandiwe Newton, actress

19. “You don’t need a big brain the size of a planet, or mad hair. You need a passion to understand things.”

- Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, space scientist and science educator 

20. “You only find what you are looking for, really, if the truth be known.”

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- Mary Leakey, the palaeontologist who discovered the first fossilised Proconsul skull

21. “It’s really important that newsrooms reflect the population”

- Fatima Manji, Britain’s first headscarf-wearing news presenter in an interview with Tim Lewis 

22. “I think there’s a massive responsibility on us to seek out stories that need telling and to find the people whose voices aren’t being heard.”

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- Alex Crawford, journalist in an interview with The Evening Standard

23. “Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.”

- Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor, first female MP

24. “Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.”

- Millicent Fawcett, suffragette 

25. “I’m proud of the way I’ve dealt with setbacks. It’s hard when you feel down and you think, ‘Why is the world doing this to me?’ But you have to pick yourself up again. That’s what makes you a better athlete.”

- Jessica Ennis, athlete

26. Confidence takes constant nurturing, like a bed, it must be remade every day.

- Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam aka M.I.A, rapper and singer

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