20 Quotes from 20 Women Changing the World

Angela Merkel

Position: Chancellor of Germany (since 2005)
Age: 59
Country of Citizenship: Germany (born in Hamburg, Germany)
Education: Leipzig University (Master of Science, Physics); Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof (Doctorate, Physical Chemistry)

“Freedom is the very essence of our economy and society. Without freedom the human mind is prevented from unleashing its creative force. But what is also clear is that this freedom does not stand alone. It is freedom in responsibility and freedom to exercise responsibility.”

Dilma Rousseff

Position: President of Brazil
Age: 66
Country of Citizenship: Brazil (born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil)

“I believe that Brazil was prepared to elect a woman. Why? Because Brazilian women achieved that. I didn’t come here by myself, by my own merits. We are a majority here in this country.”

Hillary Clinton

Position: Former U.S. Secretary of State
Age: 66
Country of Citizenship: U.S. (born in Chicago, Illinois)
Education: Wellesley College (B.A. in Political Science); Yale Law School (J.D.)

“There cannot be true democracy unless women’s voices are heard. There cannot be true democracy unless women are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own lives. There cannot be true democracy unless all citizens are able to participate fully in the lives of their country.”

Christine Lagarde

Position: Managing Director of IMF
Age: 58
Country of Citizenship: France (Born in Paris, France)
Education: Paris West University Nanterre La Défense (J.D.); Institute of Political Studies, Aix-en-Provence (Master’s degree in English and labor law)

“If Lehman Brothers had been a bit more Lehman Sisters … we would not have had the degree of tragedy that we had as a result of what happened.”

Aung San Suu Kyi

Position: Burma’s pro-democracy leader
Age: 68
Country of Citizenship: Burma (Born in Yangon, Burma)
Education: University of Delhi (Politics); St Hugh’s College, Oxford (B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics)

“In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued.”

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

Position: President of Argentina
Age: 61
Country of Citizenship: Argentina (born in La Plata, Argentina)
Education: National University of La Plata (B.A./B.S. in Law)

“Our society needs women to be more numerous in decision-making positions and in entrepreneurial areas. We always have to pass a twofold test: first to prove that, though women, we are no idiots, and second, the test anybody has to pass.”

Rania al Abdullah

Position: Queen Consort of Jordan
Age: 43
Country of Citizenship: Jordan (Born Kuwait City, Kuwait)
Education: New English School in Jabriya, Kuwait; American University in Cairo (B.A./B.S. in Business Administration)

“Educate a woman and you educate her family. Educate a girl and you change the future.”

Melinda Gates

Position: Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Age: 49
Country of Citizenship: United States (born in Dallas, Texas)
Education: Duke University (B.A. in Computer Science and Economics, MBA)

“In the developing world, it’s about time that women are on the agenda. For instance, 80 percent of small-subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are women, and yet all the programs in the past were predominantly focused on men.”

Helen Clark

Position: UN Development Program Administrator
Age: 64
Country of Citizenship: New Zealand (born in Hamilton, New Zealand)
Education: University of Auckland (B.A., M.A.)

“Girls can do anything. We do do anything and we expect to be treated as equals.”

Indra Nooyi

Position: CEO of Pepsi
Age: 58
Country of Citizenship: United States (born in Madras, Tamil Nadu, India)
Education: Madras Christian College; IIM Calcutta; Yale School of Management (MBA)

“I grew up in a Hindu household but went to a Roman Catholic school. I grew up with a mother who said, ‘I’ll arrange a marriage for you at 18,’ but she also said that we could achieve anything we put our minds to an encourage us to dream of becoming prime minister or president.”

Margaret Chan

Position: Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)
Age: 67
Country of Citizenship: Hong Kong (born in Hong Kong)
Education: Northcote College of Education (Home Economics); University of Western Ontario (Medical Doctor); National University of Singapore (M.S. in Public Health)

“I want us to be judged by the impact we have on the health of the people of Africa and the health of women. Improvements in the health of the people of Africa and the health of women are key indicators of the performance of WHO. This is a health organization for the whole world… But we must focus our attention on the people in greatest need.”

Julia Gillard

Position: Prime Minister of Australia
Age: 52
Country of Citizenship: Australia (born in Barry, Wales, UK)
Education: University of Melbourne (B.A./Bachelor of Laws)

“All my life I’ve believed that men and women have equal capacities and talents…consequently there should be equality in life’s chances.”

Mary McAleese

Position: Former President of Ireland (1997–2011)
Age: 62
Country of Citizenship: Ireland (born in Belfast, Northern Ireland)
Education: Queen’s University Belfast (Law); Trinity College, Dublin

“It is absolutely no accident that the peace and reconciliation, and indeed the economic progress, that eluded us generation after generation for hundreds of years, has at last come to pass in an Ireland where the talents of women are now flooding every aspect of life as never before.”

Dr. Helene Gayle

Position: President/CEO of Care USA
Age: 59
Country of Citizenship: U.S. (Born in Buffalo, NY)
Education: Barnard College (B.A. in Psychology); University of Pennsylvania (M.D.), Johns Hopkins University (MPH)

“No matter how you measure it, women and girls bear the brunt of poverty. But it’s also clear that women are also our greatest hope for ending it. We at CARE have long believed that if you change the life of a girl or woman, you don’t just change that individual, you change her family and then her community.”

Madeleine Albright

Position: Former U.S. Secretary of State
Age: 76
Country of Citizenship: Czech, U.S. (born in Prague, Czechoslovakia)
Education: Wellesley College (B.A. in Political Science); Columbia University (M.A., Ph.D.)

“I love being a woman and I was not one of these women who rose through professional life by wearing men’s clothes or looking masculine. I loved wearing bright colors and being who I am.”

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Position: Prime Minister of Iceland
Age: 71
Country of Citizenship: Iceland (born in Reykjavík, Iceland)
Education: Commercial College of Iceland

“Gender equality and empowerment of women is key to the success of the Millennium Development Goals. Not only as a specific target, but for the goals in general. Women bear a heavier burden of the world’s poverty than men, because of the discrimination they face in education, health care, employment and control of assets.”

Nancy Birdsall

Position: Founding President, Center for Global Development
Age: 68
Country of Citizenship: United States
Education: Newton College of the Sacred Heart (B.A.); Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (M.A.); Yale University (Ph.D.)

“More women speaking up and seizing the helm of power can create its own momentum. It can change the culture that helps perpetuate those external forces.”

Zainab Salbi

Position: Founder and CEO from 1993–2011 of Women for Women International
Age: 44
Country of Citizenship: Iraq (born in Baghdad, Iraq) and U.S.
Education: George Mason University (BA in Sociology and Women’s Studies); London School of Economics (Master’s in Development Studies)

“While women may look different, as some wear suits and others wear saris, or some cover their hair while others wear their hair loose, women need to stand together because they all face the central point of discrimination, although the extremity of which may be different from Kigali to Kabul.”

Marian Wright Edelman

Position: President and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund
Age: 74
Country of Citizenship: United States (born in Bennettsville, South Carolina)
Education: Spelman College (B.A.); Yale Law School (LLB)

“The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place.”

Christiane Amanpour

Position: Chief International Correspondent, CNN
Age: 56
Country of Citizenship: United Kingdom (born in London, England)
Education: University of Rhode Island (B.A. in Journalism)

“I have has an incredible journey full of unexpected surprises and daring-do, whether braving my own kitchen to produce a decent meal for my son or tracking down Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak in the dying days of his regime.”