9 Quotes from Bella Abzug


OneMama.org’s recent trip to the 59th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women highlighted the women of our history’s past whose voices continue to sculpt our future. Siobhan Neilland, OneMama.org founder, had the privilege of attending an event honoring one such woman, Bella Abzug. In a room filled with Bella’s, colleagues, friends, admirers, and daughter, Liz Abzug, Siobhan heard story after story about this wonder woman.

Bella, born in 1920, quickly rose to one of the loudest voices among women activists, giving her first speeches at 13! In the 1960s and 1970s her tact, boldness, and unconventional approach to activism she became one of only 12 women in the House of Representatives where she earned the name Battling Bella. “This woman’s place is in the house—the House of Representatives,” she declared.

Leading with her convictions, Bella’s advocacy for women all over the world remained her life’s mission. The U.N. awarded Bella the highest civilian honor, Blue Beret Peacekeepers Award. Bella was a lawyer, the first Jewish congresswoman, an activist, mother, and woman whose presence continues to inspire.

“After a long, complicated, and intense week as a United Nations delegate, I had run into personal obstacles where my unique style and presence seemed to cause waves, making people feel uncomfortable. It made me question whether I belonged in the UN…But then I saw all these women and heard their stories, what they had done and how they had done it: with glamour grace and fun!

Bella was ahead of her time. It gave me hope that I could someday create change in my own unique authentic way, knowing that you don’t have to look like everyone or do it like everyone create change in any one person’s life. As I spoke at this honorary event, tears rolled down my face that gave me hope that I could take the torch that Bella lit and carry it in her honor for eccentric women all over the world.”

-Siobhan Neilland


1. “I began wearing hats as a young lawyer because it helped me establish my professional identity. Before that, whenever I was at a meeting, someone would ask me to get coffee.” -Bella Abzug

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2. “Women have been trained to speak softly and carry a lipstick. Those days are over.” -Bella Abzug

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3. “Maybe we weren’t at the last supper, but we’re certainly going to be at the next one.” -Bella Abzug

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4. Women will not simply be mainstreamed into the polluted stream. Women are changing the stream, making it clean and green and safe for all–every gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, age, and ability.” -Bella Abzug

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5. “They used to give us a day-it was called International Women’s Day. In 1975 they gave us a year, the Year of the Woman. Then from 1975 to 1985 they gave us a decade, the Decade of the Woman. I said at that time, who knows, if we behave they may l et us into the whole thing . Well, we didn’t behave and here we are.” -Bella Abzug

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6. “The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes.” -Bella Abzug

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7. “Women will change the nature of power, rather than power changing the nature of women.” -Bella Abzug



8. “If we get a government that reflects more of what this country is really about, we an turn the century-and the economy-around.” -Bella Abzug

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9. “We are affirming human rights for all women and girls, acknowledging the full range of diversity that exists and detailing actions to prevent violence.” -Bella Abzug

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  1. Liz

    I love the fact that you posted one of my mom’s greatest quotes.
    Liz A.

    • CJL

      Which one is your favorite? I love them all!!! A great woman!

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