Posted on LinkedIn “Influencers” on December 27, 2013
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I am quote girl. I love finding inspiration, knowledge, and courage in the words of those much wiser than me, and I collect quotes to remind me to always be my best, even if I feel at my worst. Throughout this past year, I have been inspired by the stories of people all around the world who are working to make this world a better place, and naturally, I’ve collected some pretty amazing quotes. Below are 10 of my favourites from the past year.
“For every woman and girl violently attacked, we reduce our humanity. For every woman forced into unprotected sex because men demand this, we destroy dignity and pride. Every woman who has to sell her life for sex we condemn to a lifetime in prison. For every moment we remain silent, we conspire against our women. For every woman infected by HIV, we destroy a generation.” – Nelson Mandela
When Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5th, he left behind a legacy and impact on the world that few will ever achieve, and the tributes poured in from around the world. There are hundreds of amazing quotes attributed to Mandela over the years, but I love the one above, for it reminds us all that while he may have been known primarily for peacefully bringing South Africa out of the darkness of apartheid, he was a firm defender of women’s rights and equality for all. I visited South Africa for the first time this year and wrote about it here. What an honor to walk down the same path as this incredible man.
“So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism. Let us pick up our books and our pens – they are the most powerful weapons.” – Malala Yousafzai
When the Taliban tried to assassinate Malala Yousafzai in October of 2012 for her campaign for girls’ right to education, there was international outrage and an outpouring of support. Yousafzai survived the attack, and in 2013 went on to continue her activism, delivered an inspired speech at the United Nations, and rendered many people speechless at the wisdom and courage of someone so young.
“You won’t change things unless you are prepared to fight, even if you don’t win. But I do hate losing.” – Wendy Davis
On June 25th, 2013, Wendy Davis stood for 11 hours on the floor of the Texas Senate to filibuster the passage of a highly restrictive abortion bill, and in the process became a hero to many in the fight for women’s health rights. While her filibuster was successful, the bill was ultimately passed and signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on July 18th. Down but not out, Davis announced in October her intention to run for Governor of Texas in 2014.
“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg caused a sensation when earlier this year she released Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, a book written to help empower women to take a stronger stand in the workplace. The hostile reaction to the book only further highlighted the progress still to be made, but Sandberg has remained strong throughout the backlash and controversy as a steadfast supporter of equality in the workplace.
“On all operations, female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian Army. They are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future. If that does not suit you, then get out.” -Australian Army Chief David Morrison
The United States military has been rocked recently by revelations of an epidemic of sexual assaults against women serving in the Armed Forces. Critics have lambasted the military for not doing enough to address this problem, and their failure to do so was brought into sharp focus earlier this year when compared to how Australia dealt with its own accusations of derogatory behaviour towards women in the Australian military. In June, it was announced that many senior members of the Australian military had been suspended over their actions towards their female colleagues, and a visibly incensed Army Chief David Morrison posted a video online to address the controversy, ordering anyone who finds it acceptable to demean women to “get out.”
“Well, I hope the Leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation. Because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.” – Julia Gillard
In 2010, Julia Gillard became the first female Prime Minister of Australia, until she was replaced by Kevin Rudd in a leadership vote in June. While Prime Minister, Gillard faced a barrage of sexist and misogynist criticism from the media and fellow politicians, most notably from the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, culminating in a speech in the Australian parliament that went viral and included the above quote. While this speech was given in October of 2012, Gillard’s controversial removal earlier this year, and Tony Abbott’s later election as Prime Minister only served to highlight that sexism in politics is alive and well. I had the honor of meeting Ms. Gillard in person in November and she gave a speech about what women who aspire to the highest levels in leadership should expect to face. WOW. I am hoping to get permission to write about it.
“Learning how to face fear really makes you invincible because you stop being scared.” – Alexa von Tobel
In 2009, Alexa von Tobel founded LearnVest, an online financial help resource for women. I was one of her first angel investors and to say this woman has rocked it, would be a complete understatement. Since then, LearnVest has grown into one of the web’s premiere financial planning sites, and in July, LearnVest raised almost $20 million in funding to continue its expansion. Given her young age, von Tobel has often been asked about the key to her success. The answer? Finding your passion and checking your fear at the door. A woman after my own heart.
“I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything.” – Katy Perry
“I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.” – Beyonce
The were plenty of entertainers standing up for women’s rights this year, including Jennifer Lawrence, John Legend, Mindy Kaling, Emma Thompson, Lena Dunham, and Amy Poehler, but no one makes a statement quite like Beyonce. On December 13th, Beyonce released Beyonce, a visual album that was released without any warning, publicity, promotion, or fanfare, but which inspired a vigorous debate over what it means to be a feminist today. While bloggers hashed it out online, I think Beyonce summed it up perfectly in an interview with Vogue UK earlier this year.
“My stories do have hope because that is one of the things that is part of the solution-if there can be one. We use stories to connect, to care about people, to care about a situation. To turn the mundane heroic, to make people really think about who they are. They’re useful. And they’re also useful to me. Because if I wrote what I really think, I would be so sad all the time.” – Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon is the creator of some of the most beloved cult hits of the past 20 years, and last year he made history as the writer/director of The Avengers, the ultimate superhero blockbuster film that shattered box office records and won critical acclaim. Currently prepping the sequel to The Avengers, Whedon was asked earlier this year about the importance of stories, and I love his answer. Stories as the harbingers of hope? Absolutely!
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi
While the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world” is often attributed to Gandhi, it turns out there is no evidence to suggest that Gandhi actually said it. While it is still a great mantra, I have become partial to the above statement, because we don’t need to wait for others, or rather, we shouldn’t wait for others to change the world. Each and every one of us has a voice, and it only takes one to take a stand. But many voices joined together? Now that’s power.
What was your favorite quote of the year? Please share below.
May 2014 be the best ever for you and your family.
Jacki Zehner and Laura Moore