Strong Names for Girls Inspired by Powerful Females

From #thefutureisfemale to the #metoo movement, women are definitely having an empowered moment. One way to capture some of the current era’s bravery and strength is by choosing a meaningful name for your baby girl. When we pick strong names for girls, we inspire greatness.

There are two ways to find strong names for girls. You can search for a name that literally means “strength.” Or you can look to the past for inspiration. History is ripe with women who’ve spoken out against the status quo and achieved remarkable feats. Giving your baby girl a name inspired by a strong woman from history means choosing a name rich in backstory and packed with promise and purpose.

We took a look through the history books and found these lovely, strong names from women who changed the world.

Strong Names for Girls

Athena: This solid Greek name comes from mythology’s goddess of war and wisdom.

Clara: Encourage charity as well as success by naming your girl for Clara Barton, the tireless founder of the American Red Cross.

Cleo: Smart, powerful: Why not name your baby after Cleopatra, last pharaoh of Egypt?

Harriet: This German-origin classic honors two remarkable abolitionists from the 1800’s. There’s  the fearless Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and used the Underground Railroad to help 70 other enslaved Americans to freedom. And then there’s Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Indira: The name of India’s only female prime minister, Indira Gandhi, it means beauty or splendid.

The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is just one of history’s strong females named Catherine.

Catherine: The given name of many a powerful woman throughout history, including Russia’s empress Catherine the Great, England’s Queen Catherine of Aragon, and Duchess Catherine of Cambridge (Kate Middleton), it means pure.

Mirabai: Cultivate strength and iconoclasm in your daughter with this beautiful name. It was the moniker of an 14th century Indian mystic (aka Meera) who rebuked social convention.

Coco: A variation of Colette meaning victory for the people, Coco definitely served up a victory for women in the form of Coco Chanel. The French fashion designer introduced comfy sportswear options for women, liberating them from restrictive corsets. (On the other hand, she might have collaborated with the Germans in World War II, so weigh use of this tribute carefully).

Simone: Hope to raise a feminist? Name your daughter for French intellectual and feminist influencer Simone de Beauvoir.

Valentina: This Latin-origin choice literally means strong. It has the honor of being the first female name in space, thanks to Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.

Josephine: Consider this one for civil rights activist and entertainer Josephine Baker, who in the 1950’s displayed admirable nerve by refusing to perform for segregated audiences.

Frida: The first Mexican artist to be featured in Paris’ Louvre Museum, Frida Kahlo is today a household name, regarded for her confidence and strong personality.

Irena: Choose this lilting name to honor the brave work of Polish social worker Irena Sendler. She risked her own life to help thousands of Jewish children escape from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.

Gwendolyn: This popular Welsh name belongs to the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize, Gwendolyn Brooks.

Coretta: Coretta Scott King, the wife of MLK, was a civil rights leader in her own right. She also played a prominent role in the fight for women’s rights. Naming your baby having her makes a statement!  

Sandra: Pick this one for the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor.

Claudette: Nine months before Rosa Parks did it, a teenage Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. 

Ruby: Hope to raise a trailblazer? Go with Ruby, for the first African American to attend an all-white school during the New Orleans desegregation effort of 1960. Today Ruby Bridges continues to work as a civil rights activist in Louisiana.

Sybil: History has long ignored the Revolutionary War contributions of Sybil Ludington. This teenage “female Paul Revere” hopped on her horse to alert neighbors and soldiers that the British were near.  


Frances: As the first female to serve on a U.S. Cabinet, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins crafted child labor laws. She also helped establish a minimum wage under President Roosevelt.

What do you think of the strong names for girls on this list? Are you particularly inspired by any of these women in history? If you’re still on the hunt for a name, head to our baby names section for more lists, ideas, and tips.

I’m a married mom of two living in Seattle, WA. I have a eight-year-old little boy, a second grader! He’s a fairly reserved kid and all about Legos and Minecraft. I also have a little girl who turned four at the end of February. She’s a tiny thing but a big ham; we call her our clown. They’re a lot of work but also a ton of fun. I love to eat, cook, and run (in that order). But at the end of the day, give me a spot on the couch and a little bit of TV or a good book, I’m done!