Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is International Women’s Day, and I am delighted to post another article listing 50 women who have inspired me. Where I can, I have included a quote from each woman, words that has inspired me or touched me in some way.

There are so many inspirational women that have coloured my life, most of which remain role models. They are not necessarily great pioneers, doctors or suffragettes. This is NOT a post about The Women’s Movement or Feminism, rather it is very much my list; relevant to my life and experiences.  Some on my list are actors, others are teachers or friends. Others I respect because of the way they lived their lives, their work, or the legacy they left. Let me know what you think!

1Joanna Lumley Joanna is not only an incredible actor and comedienne, she is also a style icon, model, author and activist.  It is however, her gutsy attitude that has always appealed to me. So much so, that in difficult situations I have often thought ‘How would Joanna deal with this?’ Quote: “Buy an atlas and keep it by the bed – remember you can go anywhere.”


2. Marilyn Monroe Talented, beautiful and a victim of the studios that controlled her image, Marilyn was jogging in the 1950’s! Truly, a woman ahead of her time. Quote: “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”

3. Eleanor Roosevelt Penned my favourite quote “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. A civil rights pioneer, as well as a diplomat and activist, she served as First Lady from 1933-1945.

4. Joy Adamson A naturalist, artist and author. Her book, Born Free, describes her experiences raising a lion cub named Elsa. Devoted to raising orphaned lions and training them to survive in the wild, she was murdered in 1980 in Kenya.

5. Rosa Parks The Civil Rights activist who refused to give up her seat and thus played a pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott, is an inspiration for anyone dealing with prejudice. Quote: “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”

6. Gertrude Ederle Ederle was the first woman to swim the English Channel – and she did it wearing motorcycle goggles…Quote: “To me, the sea is like a person – like a child that I’ve known a long time. It sounds crazy, I know, but when I swim in the sea, I talk to it. I never feel alone when I’m out there.”

7. Anita Roddick Founder of The Body Shop and a human rights activist, we lost her too early to a brain haemorrhage. The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals in some of its products and one of the first to promote fair trade with developing countries. Quote: “If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.”


8. Maya Angelou  American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. I have probably used Maya’s quotes in my positivity posts more than anyone else’s. Quote: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

9. Linda McCartney American photographer, musician, animal rights activist, and entrepreneur. Although perhaps best known as first wife of Paul McCartney, she was a gifted photographer and the inspiration to millions to lead a vegetarian lifestyle. Quote: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls the whole world would be vegetarian.”

10. Jamie Lee Curtis. The “Scream Queen,” she has made the horror genre her own. Her role as Laurie Strode in my favourite horror movie Halloween will be her legacy, even though her talents have shone through her whole career. Quote: “The more I like me, the less I want to pretend to be other people.”

11. Marie Curie Curie was a pioneering, two-time Nobel prize winning scientist, whose research into radioactivity saved countless lives. Unable to attend University in Poland (because she was a woman), she moved to Paris, to continue her education. Quote: “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”

12.Judy Garland A truly gifted actress, Garland shone on stage and screen despite her tragic life off-camera, which was dominated by heartbreak and addiction issues. But her wonderful quote: ‘Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody one of the reasons I adore her.

13. Queen Elizabeth II Ascending to the throne at the tender age of 25, our Queen is
longest reigning British monarch and female head of state. This woman is truly one of the strongest having endured almost every life event thinkable during her tenure on the throne and remained adored by the British public. Quote: “The world is not the most pleasant place. Eventually, your parents leave you and nobody is going to go out of their way to protect you unconditionally. You need to learn to stand up for yourself and what you believe and sometimes, pardon my language, kick some ass

14. Audrey Hepburn Audrey was a humanitarian, dancer, actress and member of the Dutch Resistance. Quote ‘Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible!’’

15. Martina Navratilova Navratilova battled through early hardship to become the unrivalled queen of tennis for two decades and an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights. Quote: “Whoever said, ‘It’s not whether you win or lose that counts,’ probably lost.”

16. Jennifer Saunders Master comedienne. Jennifer Saunders is, quite simply, the funniest woman on the planet. Quote: (From Ab Fab) “Darling, if you want to talk bollocks and discover the meaning of life, you’re better off downing a bottle of whiskey. At least that way, you’re unconscious by the time you start to take yourself seriously.’

17. Mrs Sloper My second-year history teacher at Secondary School. Mrs Sloper brought history alive for me, which resulted eventually in an Honours degree and a life long desire to drag Andy around every ruined castle I can find.

18. Anne Boleyn In times when women truly were secondary, Anne made the Tudor court her own for six long years, such was her courage, charm and underlying steely determination to be Queen. It didn’t end well for her but she would have found much to be proud of in her daughter Elizabeth I.

19. Agatha Christie My favourite author by far, I’ve read all her books multiple times! And she was born in Torquay! (my home town.) Quote: “One doesn’t recognize the really important moments in one’s life until it’s too late.”

20. My daughter Clever, funny, beautiful; I couldn’t be more proud.

21. Ruth Bader Ginsburg  Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, Bader Ginsburg is our legal idol. Through her various verdicts, supporting women’s rights, LGBT causes and racial equality. Quote: “I don’t say women’s rights—I say the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship stature of men and women.”

22. Charlotte Tilbury My go-to makeup brand, Charlotte’s backstory is an interesting one. Google her! Quote: “While at first it seemed like a depressing realisation, I soon realised that makeup is powerful – its every woman’s secret weapon.”

23. Kate Bush Singer, songwriter and producer; Kate wrote the classic song Wuthering Heights at age 18. Genius! Quote: “”I don’t aim for perfection. But I do want to try and come up with something interesting.

24. Davina McColl I have been exercising for 15 years to Davina’s DVD’s. Davina is inspirational, funny and self deprecating, which makes her perfect in my eyes. Quote: “The best advice I’ve heard was from a lady in her 80s at my grandmother’s 90th birthday. I was telling her how wonderful my children are. She said, “Don’t forget your husband: you only borrow your children; your husband you’ll have for ever”.

25.  Emmeline Pankhurst A founder member of the suffragette movement, Pankhurst demanded equality for women. Her efforts led to the vote being granted to some women (those over the age of 30 who owned property or were married to a man who owned property) in 1918. As modern women we must never forget what the suffragettes did for us, often at terrible personal cost. Quote: “I would rather be a rebel than a slave.”

26. Jane Fonda The original exercise queen, Jane was my inspiration in the 1980’s. Never mind wanting to look like Jane, I wanted to BE Jane! Quote: “It’s never too late – never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.”

27. Meryl Streep Probably one of the best actresses of our time, Streep wasn’t afraid to suffer for her art and incredibly has 21 Academy Award nominations. Quote: “What does it take to be the first female anything? It takes grit, and it takes grace.”

28. Mary Portas Mary, who became ‘Mary Queen of Shops’ in 2007, retail guru and high street expert, it was not only Mary’s ‘take no crap’ attitude that appealed to me, but also her work ethic. Quote: “So many things [in my life] were based on what people thought and outward ego, and I saw that this was something I needed to change in order to get that deep joy. I started thinking about what I was giving to the world, and what made me stressed and hung up, too. I realised that there was stuff I didn’t want to do, and places I didn’t want to be, because they were not connected to my true sense of myself.”


29. Josie Harapp My friend and a surrogate mother figure, her favourite saying “just keep going” stays with me, 3 years after her death from cancer,

30. Annie Lennox I loved Annie in The Tourists days through to The Eurythemics and beyond. What a voice! “The sisters are doin’ it for themselves” in collaboration with Aretha Franklin, remains a favourite.

31. Emma Watson Best known as Hermione in the Harry Potter films, Watson has become an outspoken voice in the fight for global women’s rights and how men should be more involved in feminism. Quote:  ‘”Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.’

32. Maggie Smith Downton Abbey brought her genius to a new generation, but Maggie Smith had been a star on the stage, film and television since 1952. And she is still formidable! Quote: “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.

33.  Doreen Lawrence Mother of Stephen Lawrence, the London teenager murdered in a 1993 racist attack, she has since become a prominent campaigner against racial violence, a member of the House of Lords and has taught us compassion is possible even coming from a situation driven by adversity and hate. Quote: “If you can speak you can influence. If you can influence you can change lives.

34. Mary Quant  British fashion designer and fashion icon, she became an instrumental figure in the 1960s London-based Mod and youth fashion movements. I love Mary’s style. Quote: “The fashionable woman wears clothes. The clothes don’t wear her.

35. Kate Winslet You can’t help but love Kate, bullied at school, she went on to become an Oscar winning actress, rescued Richard Branson’s mother from a fire, and is married to a man called Ned Rocknroll. Wow, Kate! We all want to be you. Quote: “I do think it’s important for young women to know that magazine covers are retouched. People don’t really look like that.”

36. Empress Matilda You may not have heard of her, but this courageous woman took the English throne in 1141 in a world where it was unheard of for a woman to rule. She would have held on to it to, if it hadn’t been for her pesky cousin Stephen. 


37. Ellen MacArthur She broke the solo record for sailing round the world, ant now she is dedicating her life to an even greater challenge – saving it from the destructive tide of plastic pollution. Quote; “We are trying to change a system, not one business. We need to change the way people think, the way things are designed, the materials that are put into them”

38. Jessica Ennis Hill The 2012 London Olympic champion, Jessica inspired thousands of young women and girls to take up sport. Quote: “I’ve always said that you’re obviously doing something right if you have got pressure on you.”

39. J K Rowling Apparently, the idea for Harry Potter ‘strolled’ into her head while she was writing and trying to stay warm in a cheap café. Stuff of fairy tales. Literally. Quote: “If you’re holding out for universal popularity, I’m afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time.

40. Helena Bonham Carter Helena, the most eccentric actor I can think of, has the most wonderful sense of style. DM’s paired with ball gowns. I love you. Quote: “I think my mouth just opens and I spontaneously say things that occur to me.”

41. Katherine Hepburn Another ballsey actress, Kathryn had a 26 yr long romance with Spencer Tracy though he never divorced his wife. Box office gold! Quote: “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”

42. Elizabeth Taylor It’s hard to know how best to sum up the much married, Oscar winning Elizabeth. Suffice to say, my favourite quote of hers is “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.”

43. Susan Jeffers Author of the best self-help book ever, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway taught us how you can stop negative thinking patterns and how you can re-educate our minds to think more positively. She changed a lot of lives. Quote: “Remember that underlying all our fears is a lack of trust in ourselves.


44. Elizabeth I Daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, she was multilingual and highly accomplished. Her unstable upbringing which saw her mother executed, and herself nearly so, only strengthened her resolve to keep her throne, and England, steady which she did for 44 years.

44. Bette Davis Bette is known as one of the greatest actresses ever to grace screen or stage with 10 Oscar nominations. She didn’t mind playing unsympathetic characters in strong and complex roles. She behaved badly and enjoyed riling people… (particularly Joan Crawford), but we loved her for it. Quote: “There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.”

45. Jackie Kennedy Onassis Jackie was already America’s sweetheart before the death of her first husband John F Kennedy which she faced with stoic dignity and grace. Her later marriage to billionaire Aristotle Onassis meant she became a favourite of the gossip columnists, but she never lost her cool, aloof style and her fashion sense was copied worldwide. Quote: “”I want to live my life, not record it.

46. Margaret Beaufort Grandmother of Henry VIII, it is hard to grasp the vast influence of this Tudor matriarch. Married at 12, she later became a key figure in The Wars of The Roses and established two colleges at Cambridge.

47Michelle Obama  Graduate of Princeton and Harvard, intellectual property lawyer and devoted mother, there is nothing that Michelle Obama cannot do. I am hoping she will run for president someday soon and she is an inspiration to young girls everywhere. Quote: “”Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?

48. Serena Williams Quite simply one of the best female athletes of all time Williams is a 23-time grand slam winner and won the 2017 Australian Open whilst two months pregnant. I love her body positivity. Quote: ‘I’m really exciting. I smile a lot, I win a lot and I’m really sexy.’

49. Greta Thunberg  She created the global movement, School Strike for Climate Change, and went on to be named Time‘s 2019 Person of the Year.
Greta has managed something environmentalists have been trying to achieve for years – she got the whole world’s attention. No matter your age or your size, you can make a difference. Quote: “I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic”

50.  Malala Yousafzai Yousafzai wanted the same education as her male peers and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, ran a girls’ school in the village in which they lived. However the Taliban closed it as they didn’t believe girls should receive an education. Not one to be deterred, Yousafzai continued to pursue her education but, in 2012, was confronted by a gunman on her school bus who shot her in the left side of her face. Now living in the UK, she founded The Malala Fund aiming to to give girls everywhere a chance at the future they deserve. Quote: “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

I hope you like my list! Please let me know who is on yours! ❤️

7 replies »

  1. Great list, Karen. I didn’t make one this year, but you’ve inspired me to make one for next year, featuring inspiring Canadian women. They get lost in the shuffle! Happy International Women’s Day.

  2. Great list Karen, I would have on mine Grace Kelly, Siouxsie Sioux, Madonna, Steffi Graf, Beartrix Potter, Katherine Johnson just to name a few

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