23 Wise Words From Women Who Inspire Us To Fight For Equality

Rosa Parks, Eve Ensler, Aung San Suu Kyi, Hillary Clinton: The political agents of change inspiring us to mobilise when we lack the energy to fight

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Sadness. Disappointment. Anger. Hate. Love. Hope.

These emotions have been oscillating around the ELLE office this morning, ever since the news broke that Donald Trump had been elected the 45th President of the US.

Yesterday, American citizens had their chance to elect a first ever female president, inspiring a generation of women to finally see that equality is no longer an idealistic dream but a viable option in a world that so often fails to recognise the value of women and tries to stifle our voices beneath a seemingly immovable glass ceiling.

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However, unfortunately, our dreams of seeing a woman elected to the White House remain, for now, just that – a dream.

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While many of us around the world may be feeling confused, disillusioned with the state of US politics and looking for someone to blame – it's important to realise that in times of despair, fear and anguish, we should not dwell too long on the circumstances, but instead conceive of ways to take action.

After all, just think of the women throughout history who have resisted the temptation to fall in line, who have fought and survived misogyny, racism, political oppression and elitism; the fight for female suffrage, sexual reproductive rights, education, recognition.

Remember, in times of inequality and lost hope, we do not fall, we fight. We do not become quietened, we shout. We do not hide away in sorrow, we act.

Above all, we do not hate, we find love.

This is what we do.

A photo posted by Anthony Anaxagorou (@anthony_anaxagorou) on

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In times like these, it helps to look back on some of history's most inspirational women to remember that whatever the storm, we are strong enough to fight for justice.

So, it seemed fitting that we start with the most prevalent of females today:

'The worst thing that can happen in a democracy - as well as in an individual's life - is to become cynical about the future and lose hope.' Hillary Clinton, former Democratic presidential candidate.

'Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.' Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood.

'If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.' Margaret Thatcher, former Conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain.

'Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.' Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

'Make a difference about something other than yourselves.' Toni Morrison, American novelist.

'The question is not whether we are able to change but whether we are changing fast enough.' Angela Merkel, German Chancellor.

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'If it is true that men are better than women because they are stronger, why aren't our sumo wrestlers in the government?' Kishida Toshiko, women's rights activist, and Japan's first female orator.

'I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my ship.' Louisa May Alcott, American Novelist of 'Little Women'

'The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.' Martha Washington, considered to be the first First Lady of the United States.

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'To the wrongs that need resistance, to the right that needs assistance, to the future in the distance, give yourselves.' Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

'Courage allows the successful woman to fail- and learn powerful lessons- from the failure- so that in the end, she didn't fail at all.' Maya Angelou, author and civil rights activist.

'The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.' Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, leader of Burma's democracy movement.

'You are the stars and the world is watching you. By your presence, you send a message to every village, every city, every nation. A message of hope. A message of victory.' Eunice Shriver, founder and honorary chairperson of Special Olympics.

'Activism is something that no one can fake. You get angry. You cry. But you never throw in your towel, because that anger is what is propelling you to further action.' Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate and Oxfam Ambassador.

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'Each person must live their life as a model for others'. Rosa Parks, known as the 'first lady of civil rights'.

'I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.' Michelle Obama, First Lady.

'No person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended.' Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winning author for 'The Colour Purple'.

'Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the President's spouse. I wish him well!' Barbara Bush, ex- First Lady.

'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.' Eleanor Roosevelt, American politician, diplomat, and activist.

'You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.' Indira Gandhi, Indian politician and central figure of the Indian National Congress party​.

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'Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.' Mother Theresa, Roman Catholic nun and missionary.

'It seems to me there's this tyranny that's not accidental or incidental, to make women feel compelled to look like somebody they're not. I think the effort is being made to get us to turn our time and attention to this instead of important political issues.' Eve Ensler, author of 'The Vagina Monologues'.

'You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.' Indira Gandhi, Indian politician and central figure of the Indian National Congress party.

If, like us, you're feeling disheartened and guilty for not having done enough to inspire women and men in the US to vote in a female president, remember that the fight for equality is not over.

Here are five feminist groups you can join today to start your journey on becoming real forces of change in the world:

The Fawcett Society

The UK's leading charity promoting gender equality and women's rights at work, at home and in public life. Visit here.

UK Feminista

A feminist campaigning organisation working to end the continuing inequalities between women and men by training supporters on how to campagin, working with you people and teachers to tackle sexism in education and running campaigns with other organizations to tackle misogyny. Visit here.

The Women's Equality Party

The UK's first mainstream political party dedicated to seeing women enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men. Visit here.

NAWO

An alliance of organisations and institutions working to make gender equality a reality and ensure women gain access to their human rights. NAWO works at a national level with the UK government and internationally with the United Nations. Visit here.

End Violence Against Women

A leading coalition of specialist women's support services, researchers, activists, survivors and NGOs working to end violence against women and girls. Visit here.

This is not the end. It's only the beginning. #Morewomen

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