International Museum of Women


Women of Courage Speak

Olympe de Gouges
"Women, wake up; the tocsin of reason sounds throughout the universe; recognize your rights."
- The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizen - 1791

Simone de Beauvoir
"One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. No biological, psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society; it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature, intermediate between male and eunuch, which is described as feminine,"
- The Second Sex, 1952

Flora Tristan
"She was a very disturbing and very curious subject of study; you were afraid to meet her, and that fear was mixed with a certain joy"
- From Susan Grogan, Flora Tristan: Life Stories

Umm Kulthum
"They [fellahin, peasants] are simple people...but they have hearts of gold. They were my first audience. Whatever success I have realized goes back to them They are the real masters of this country because they are the source of goodness, generosity, and love in it."

Mamphele Ramphele
"The double jeopardy of being black and female in a racist and sexist society may well make one less afraid of the sanctions against success. A non-subservient black woman is by definition a transgressive- she is the ultimate outsider."

Petra Kelly
"The profound political changes we need in order to heal our planet will not come about through fragmented problem solving or intellectual analyses that overlook the deepest yearnings and intuitions of the heart….As we begin to cultivate a rich inner life and experience our connection with all life, we realize how little of what society tells us we need is actually important for our well-being….Green politics must address the spiritual vacuum of industrial society."

Margaret Thatcher
"In those days one advantage of being a woman was that there was a basic courtesy towards us on which we could draw - something which today's feminists have largely dissipated."
- from book The Path to Power, 1995

Florence Nightingale
"Women never have a half-hour in all their lives (excepting before or after anybody is up the house) That they can call their own, without fear of offending or of hurting someone. Why do people sit up so late, or, more rarely, get up so early? Not because the day is not long enough, but because they have ‘no time in the day to themselves’."
- 1852

"Although she was flesh and blood, some view her as mythical. Although she was a slave, she rose to a position of leadership that is unique in the history of the New World."
- from: Jerome Adams, Liberators and Patriots of Latin America

Alexandra Kollontai
"I remained sitting where I was, wondering who was right, whose view would be taken up by the new generation, this emerging class grappling with these new ideas and feelings."
- from: Three Generation

Sophia Jex-Blake
"It seemed to me radically unjust, and most discreditable to Great Britain that all her daughters who desired a University education should be driven abroad to seek it."
- 1869

Shirin Ebadi
"The people of Iran have been battling against consecutive conflicts between tradition and modernity for over 100 years … [some have tried] to see the world through the eyes of their predecessors and to deal with the problems and difficulties of the existing world by virtue of the values of the ancients… [others] seek to go forth in step with world developments and not lag behind the caravan of civilization, development and progress."
- Nobel Prize acceptance speech, October, 2003

George Eliot
"You can never imagine what it is to have a man's force of genius in you, and yet to suffer the slavery of being a girl."
- from: Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

Edwidge Dandicat
"My grandmother was an old country woman who always felt displaced in the city of Port-au-Prince - where we lived- and had nothing but her patched-up quilts and her stories to console her....I still miss the countless mystical stories that she told us."
- 1995 Interview

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
"There are those who argue that the concept of human rights is not applicable to all cultures. We in the National League for Democracy believe that human rights are of universal relevance. But even those who do not believe in human rights must certainly agree that the rule of law is most important. Without the rule of law there can be no peace."
- Videotaped Comments sent to UN Human Rights Conference, 1996.

Medha Patkar
"When in the name of development the projects are planned unscientifically, without consideration of the priority for the masses and for the handful of the vested interests, under sheer political expediency, it's a democratic and civil right and a duty of every citizen to question that. This too is politics, peoples politics that would define power relations among various sections of populations, which we pursue."
- Interview, Oct. 1994

Women of Courage Project

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