11 Famous Women On The Importance Of Gender Parity

Photo: The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/MCT/Getty Images.
April 26 marks the second annual 50/50 Day, a global day centered around the goal of achieving a gender-balanced world across all races, ages, issues, and industries.
The initiative is spearheaded by filmmaker Tiffany Shlain and the day is being observed in over 57 countries worldwide with over 35,000 events, including film screenings, panels, and conversations about #GettingTo5050. It's also a day about paying homage to the women before us who have pushed boundaries and shattered ceilings, encouraging us to fight for parity in their wake.
To kick off the day with some inspiration, here are some our favorite quotes by prominent women in politics, entertainment, business, and art about the need for a gender-balanced world.
#GettingTo5050, a global movement rooted in actionable tools and resources, aims to catalyze the conversations that will inspire a more gender-balanced world. Because true equality doesn't just lift women—it lifts everyone. Learn more here.
1 of 11
Photo: Monica Schipper/WireImage.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

After her “We Should All Be Feminists” TED Talk went viral, the author adapted it into a book of the same name. In it, she confronts the dangers of gender stereotypes and outlines her vision for a feminist world.

“Other men might respond by saying: Okay, this is interesting, but I don’t think like that. I don’t even think about gender. Maybe not. And that is part of the problem. That many men do not actively think about gender or notice gender.”

Adichie’s talk was also famously featured in Beyoncé’s song “Flawless.”
2 of 11
Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images.
Emma Watson

When the Harry Potter actress turned UN Women Goodwill Ambassador spoke about gender equality at the United Nations in 2014, the world listened. Her main point: Gender equality is a men’s issue, too, and should be treated as such.

"How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?" she asked.
3 of 11
Photo: The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/MCT/Getty Images.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the second woman to serve on our country’s highest federal court, and is one of four women to serve in U.S. history. Nicknamed the “Queen of Dissent,” she has championed women’s rights for the entirety of her career, with a focus on closing the gender wage gap.

When asked when there would be enough women on the Supreme Court, the Notorious RBG famously said: "There will be enough when there are nine.”

RBG fans can look forward to the documentary about her coming out next week.
4 of 11
Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images.
Shonda Rhimes

Her name is now synonymous with must-see TV (she created Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How To Get Away With Murder), but Rhimes had to pave the way for herself in the largely white-male dominated TV and film industry. Rhimes is the first woman (and woman of color) to create three hit TV shows with over 100 episodes each. She has said that she is committed to raising the next generation of showrunners to continue to promote diverse representation of all races and genders on screen.

"Making it through the ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman's footprints," Rhimes said, acknowledging the women and minorities who came before her.
5 of 11
Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Since 2009, Gillibrand has dedicated her tenure in the Senate to equal pay, paid family leave, and tougher laws against sexual harassment on school campuses and in the military. She's also calling for more female representation in government in order to affect change.

“Women are not sufficiently part of the decision-making fabric of this country — whether in Congress, state governments, corporate boardrooms, or corner suites, there are not enough women’s voices being heard. I believe if we are going to grow our economy and really create a competitive environment against other nations, we need women as part of that effort. Until women are able to achieve their potential, America will not achieve hers,” Gillibrand said.
6 of 11
Photo: Steven Ferdman/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images.
Gloria Steinem

This feminist icon and pioneer has dedicated her life to challenging old-fashioned gender roles, fighting for women’s reproductive freedom, and for gender equality in the workplace.

“Nothing changes the gender equation more significantly than women's economic freedom,” Steinem famously said.
7 of 11
Photo: J. Kempin/Getty Images.
Ariel Levy

The New Yorker writer and author of The Rules Do Not Apply has often written about female empowerment and the complex nature of contemporary feminism. She says that “having it all” isn’t what feminism is about — despite the unrealistic notion that that’s what women should strive for — and that change doesn’t come from being the exception, but from changing the rules.

“It can be fun to feel exceptional — to be the loophole woman, to have a whole power thing, to be an honorary man. But if you are the exception that proves the rule, and the rule is that women are inferior, you haven't made any progress,” Levy wrote in her book Female Chauvinist Pigs.
8 of 11
Photo: Michael Gottschalk/Photothek/Getty Images.
Malala Yousafzai

After being shot by a Taliban gunman for attending school when she was only 15, Yousafzai became one of the world’s most famous young activists for her fight for girls’ right to education. In 2014, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. Celebrated for her relentless resolve and bravery in the face of terror and sexism, Yousafzai is proof of the power, courage, wisdom, and tenacity of young women.

In her memoir I Am Malala, Yousafzai wrote: "I raise up my voice — not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back."
9 of 11
Photo: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic.
Anita Hill

In 1991, the law professor testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee (which at the time, consisted of 14 white men) about then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassing her. Though her accusations were dismissed, Hill’s courage paved the way for sexual harassment legislation and empowered other women to speak out against their harassers.

In an interview with What Will It Take, Hill said: “I think we’ve got so many complex issues that cannot be resolved by looking at them from one perspective. And ultimately, allowing more women in will help make better decisions if, in fact, those women are powerful and in tune with and connected with other women’s voices, and perhaps voices of people who have been left out of the conversation, including people of color.”
10 of 11
Photo: CJ Rivera/FilmMagic.
Angelica Fuentes

A business executive, Fuentes has been named by Forbes as one of Mexico’s most powerful women. In 2014, she created a foundation dedicated to achieving gender equality in Latin America and was the first woman to receive the CEO Leadership Award for championing the Women’s Empowerment Principles. She advocates for gender equality not only to propel women forward, but to propel the world forward.

“Gender parity is not just good for women — it’s good for societies,” Fuentes said.
11 of 11
Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.
Sheryl Sandberg

In her 2013 book Lean In, the COO of Facebook stressed the importance of women having a seat at the table. In 2015, she launched her Lean In-tern program to promote peer support amongst women in tech, because she believes a network of support is essential if we want to move the needle towards gender equality.

In her speech to Barnard’s 2011 graduating class, Sandberg said: "We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women's voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored."

More from Work & Money


R29 Original Series