The pen is mightier than the sword
These women, I feel, have used their voices masterfully to be heard in historically male dominated environments. Each one of them has a sincerity, dogged self-belief and tenacity that makes them such strong advocates for their causes. We can all feel inspired by them when searching for the power in our own voices.
1. Malala Yousafzai - Education for women
“Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons”.
Malala is the definition of someone who has defied the odds and inspired millions to recognise the importance of education for all women. Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest ever Nobel prize winner, Malala moved the world in her speech to the UN in 2013.
Malala’s life experience can be considered unique. She was shot by the Taliban at the age of 15 whilst seated on a bus headed home from school. Yet, Malala managed to connect with her audience on a profound level.
She told her authentic story totally from the heart. There was power in her authenticity. She moved seamlessly from her own personal experience to wider human experiences and universal values that resonated with everyone. In her final rallying cry, you can almost feel that she has the audience of world leaders in the palm of her hand when she states:
“We believe in the power and strength of our words. Our words can change the whole world because we are all together, united for the cause of education.”
2. Justice Sonia Sotomayor – US Supreme Court judge
The first Hispanic and Latina Judge of the Supreme Course of the United States, Sonia Sotomayor is only the third woman to ever serve in this role. She certainly has battled against the odds to get to where she is today to serve in one of the highest offices possible.
Sonia Sotomayor speaks with quiet confidence, consideration and gravity when advocating for equality and opportunity. What we love about her is that she is so relatable, frequently referring to her humble beginnings growing up in the Bronx, New York, and her Puerto Rican culture. It is this pride in her heritage that inspires people to believe that anything is possible. She also is sure to throw in some humour here or there, which only serves to make her feel more approachable.
"In every position that I've been in, there have been naysayers who don't believe I'm qualified or who don't believe I can do the work. And I feel a special responsibility to prove them wrong."
3. Sheryl Sandberg – Women in business
COO of Facebook and former VP at Google, Sheryl Sandberg frequently tops the ‘Most Influential People’ lists. More recently, Sheryl has devoted time and energy to initiatives to support women in business.
She speaks passionately and authoritatively about women needing a seat at the table. Women often naturally take a backseat in the business world - be it because they are scared or because it feels safer. She advocates for affirmative action to improve the female pipeline in businesses. Her work in celebrating female values within a business setting encourages women at every level to speak and find their own voice. . In particular, she encourages changes in the business world to ensure that children and motherhood are not barriers to a woman’s career aspirations.
“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”
To read more about our advice on what to do if you're struggling with being heard as a woman in the workplace, click here.
4. Michelle Obama - Female Empowerment
Michelle Obama needs no introduction. She has made it her mission to champion women and adolescent girls around the world through education. She truly realised the power of the pen when she delivered this message in her bestselling autobiography Becoming in 2019, drawing on her personal experiences.
“Neither of my parents and hardly anyone in the neighbourhood where I grew up went to college. For me, education was power.”
As a communicator, Michelle Obama is one of the greats. She communicates with warmth, sincerity, passion and grace. She speaks from the heart on matters which truly matter to her, and it shows. The empathy she exudes gives her a magnetic quality that attracts millions of people around the world to her message.
Have Confidence in Your Voice
These women harnessed the power in their voices and were able to communicate their message to the world. Their activism provides a catalyst for change to liberate women, one step at a time.
So, what’s my takeaway message today?
Be inspired by these women to shatter glass ceilings. Banish your self-doubt. Conquer any thoughts of limitations. Above all, have unapologetic confidence in your voice.
Do you want to use your voice more powerfully? Do you want to command attention when you speak?
At LSW, we are all about creating more powerful communicators. We can help you to find the power within your voice. Click here to learn more about our 1:1 coaching .