International Women’s Day 2021 quotes: Best quotes to celebrate International Women’s Day

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It’s International Women’s Day on Monday and your social media feed is going to be filled with feminist quotes and messages. The day celebrates womanhood in general, but many use the day as an opportunity to share their favourite work from female writers and discuss gender inequality. Looking for a good quote to post online? chatted to poet and author of feminist poetry collection Confessions of a Maneater, Ashanti-Tanita Bloomfield (@ashanti_tanita on Instagram) to find out her top 10 literary quotes to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Grace Nichols – ‘Praise Song for my Mother’

You were

the fishes’ red gill to me

the flame tree’s spread to me

the crab’s leg/the fried plantain smell

replenishing replenishing

Go to your wide futures, you said

Grace Nichols’ Praise Song for my Mother is the perfect poem to celebrate International Women’s Day and is also relevant to share around Mother’s Day as well.

Ashanti said: “It seems necessary to appreciate Grace Nichols’s tribute for her mother- a woman who no doubt Nichols believed to be strong and wise.

She said: “Nichols makes sure to lace this poem with her Caribbean heritage associating the warmth of her mother with the exotic blended aromas of traditional Caribbean foods by referencing plantain and crab’s leg. Don’t we all enjoy our mothers’ Sunday dinners! Yum!

“Nichol’s ends the stanza with a beautiful metaphor ‘replenishing replenishing’ demonstrating how a mother’s love for her child is eternally giving, not only with nourishment but in everything she does.

“Nichols’s mother, much like many of our mothers, encourages Nichols’s to be anything she wants to be, describing her future as wide – gender is definitely not a limit to this wise woman.”

Kat Dennings – ‘The Catastrophic Alphabet’ in Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies by Scarlett Curtis.

W is for wedding.

Don’t bother getting married until you’re forty. You’re not going to like it.

If you’re looking for something short and sweet, take these lines from Kat Dennings’ ‘The Catastrophic Alphabet’ and share them with your friends.

Ashanti said: “Dennings writes an acrostic poem (or if we want to get technical an abecedarian poem) about how our mothers always fear their daughter’s kidnap and always manage to come up with the most exaggerated scenarios in their minds.

“Dennings ends each hypothetical situation with a kidnap. This line specifically, however, does not end in kidnap.

“Her mother simply but cleverly tells her not to get married too soon and to go and enjoy her life first.

“Her deliberate omittance of the word kidnap at the end of this line can infer she already views early marriage as a kind of kidnap (possibly of her freedom and youth) which made me giggle. Live your life girls!”

Rupi Kaur – ‘Sisters’ from her most recent poetry collection, Homebody:

On days I would not move

It was women

Who came to water my feet

Until I was strong enough

To stand

It was women

Who nourished me

Back to life.

Rupi Kaur is responsible for a number of feminist poems you’ll see all over your social media feeds, and ‘Sisters’ is particularly fitting for International Women’s Day.

Ashanti said: “This is one of my favourites by Rupi Kaur. She never fails to include the power of women throughout her work, but this one talks of the caring and supportive nature of woman to woman. She titles the poem sisters.

“We always love a woman who supports other women and I think this is perfect for International Women’s Day.

“Think of our mothers, sisters, aunties, grandmothers, best friends, if we aren’t going to support each other, who will!”

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Christina Rossetti – ‘The Goblin Market’

For there is no friend like a sister

In calm or stormy weather;

To cheer one on the tedious way,

To fetch one if one goes astray,

To lift one if one totters down,

To strengthen whilst one stands.

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In this poem, Rossetti explores female sexuality, family and sisterly love.

Ashanti said: “This love extends not only between sisters but all women, as if to say, despite your sexuality, or ‘differences’ as women we should pull each other up and support each other. That is a message I can always get behind!”

Florence Nightingale – ‘Cassandra’

Why have women passion, intellect, moral activity – these three – and a place in society where no one of the three can be exercised?

Ashanti said: “This is famously one of Nightingale’s most angry and frustrated quotes from her essay Cassandra, and I am all on board with her.

“Nightingale highlights the strong capabilities of women and how their potential just lay dormant unable to be put to good use.

“Nightingale eventually fights back at a time when women were only expected to marry and have children and she becomes a nurse.

“Even during the 1800s women like Nightingale were breaking social boundaries. This should definitely be celebrated, especially during our current national lockdown where millions of women are doing their families proud by putting their lives in danger to fight the dreaded ‘C-word’.

“Back in the 1850s an opportunity like this was not readily available. “

Mary Wollstonecraft – ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’

Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience; but, as blind obedience is ever sought for by power, tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavour to keep women in the dark, because the former only want slaves, and the latter a play-thing.

We cannot discuss International Women’s Day without mentioning a quote from Mary Wollstonecraft, writer of The Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

Ashanti said: “Wollstonecraft pushes for the education of women, and simply argues that women can’t demonstrate their full potential if they aren’t allowed to stretch their minds in the same way men were able to.

“This fight for equality in education cleverly threatens the male ego and masculinity as she sets up a challenge – women will not be so ‘obedient’ if they are able to see they aren’t choosing they’re enclosed lifestyles, it is forced upon them by their lack of education.

“Now we see female scientists such as Katalin Karikó – one of the minds behind the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, or Margaret Hamilton, the female computer scientist who worked on the Apollo program which eventually landed the first humans on the moon.

“Women like Wollstonecraft would be very proud indeed!”

Maya Angelou – Still I Rise

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Still I Rise is an iconic feminist poem, and who hasn’t heard of Maya Angelou?

Ashanti said: “This one still makes the hairs on my arms stand on end. If we’re getting into inspirational women, this is definitely a woman that should always get a mention.

“Still I rise is inclusive of every kind of woman there is in the world; black, white, Asian, brown, LGBTQ+, mother, daughter, sister, friend.

“She speaks of, and to, the power in the soul of every woman who always gets back up after being knocked down and still, they rise!

“But also, this stanza specifically, demonstrates that there is a power in living – for anyone who is facing hardship in any way.

“The poem is so good, choosing just one stanza did not do it complete justice, so please take a look at the poem in full.”

Angela Davis – For Every Woman

You are beautiful.

Everything will be okay

if you can believe in yourself.

But most of all, please love yourself.

Angela Davis’ message in For Every Woman is simple – love yourself!

Ashanti said: “We see it in self-help books, mental health campaigns and even famously said by our favourite drag queen Ru Paul, ‘If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love anybody else’ and we all shout Amen together – AMEN!

“Angela Davis writes a poem to every woman and sends the important message to love yourself but as a civil rights activist and her close association to the Black Panther’s, she is influential for so much more in regard to her militant efforts for social change and reform in the USA.”

Bernardine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other

Gender is one of the biggest lies of our civilization.

Ashanti said: “Evaristo widely explores womanhood in her book Girl, Woman, Other and this quote speaks loudly and entirely for itself.

“Evaristo is an inspiration for her outward thought on race and gender via her fiction. Evaristo is definitely a woman to be celebrated.”

J.K Rowling

Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve.

J.K Rowling isn’t just the author of world-famous book Harry Potter, she’s often listed as a feminist icon.

Ashanti said: “Her personal story alone is an inspiration as a single mother relying on the state to an extremely successful author.

“This quote is relevant at a time where the dreaded lockdown has given birth to a myriad of new businesses, small or large; J.K Rowling hit the nail on its head with this line.

“If you want to achieve anything in life it takes courage, time and of course ‘nerve’.

“The message here is to push yourself out of your comfort zones and take risks, whether the payoff is small or large we all have to start somewhere, and J.K Rowling is proof that hard work can definitely pay off ‘if you’ve got the nerve’.

“From a lower-class single mother to a multi-millionaire, I will definitely be taking a leaf out of her book – pun absolutely intended.”

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