The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Speeches by Women

At the beginning of 2011, The Eloquent Woman blog launched a new weekly feature called "Famous Speech Friday," designed to answer a question I kept getting from speakers, trainees and speaker coaches: "Where can I find examples of great women's speeches?" Often, they'd add that they could only find examples from long-past speeches from the most famous of women speakers, like Eleanor Roosevelt or Barbara Jordan.

Now we have more than 180 speeches and counting collected here as The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches, and the roster includes everyone from Eleanor Roosevelt to Lady Gaga. Every speech here is famous in some way, even if the speaker is not, and most of them include commentary on women's issues. You'll find tips on what you can learn from each of these speeches, along with transcripts, audio or video whenever it's available. The entries are below, arranged alphabetically by the speaker's first name. Before the parade of speeches, you'll also find posts that collect speeches on this list by type of speaker, topic and other slices of the index, to make it more useful to you. I welcome your suggestions for future famous speech examples by women, at eloquentwomanATgmailDOTcom.

Entries by type of speech:
10 famous commencement speeches by women
6 famous extemporaneous speeches by women
5 famous speeches by women that made secrets public
32 famous women's speeches to close Women's History Month (speeches 50 years old or older)

Entries by type of speaker:
29 famous speeches by black women
17 famous speeches by British women
4 famous speeches by women athletes
5 famous speeches by women candidates for U.S. president or vice president
12 famous speeches by women on disability
9 famous speeches by Indian, Pakistani, or Indian-American women
9 famous speeches by women legislators
6 famous speeches by women scientists
5 famous speeches by women who feared public speaking
7 famous speeches by women with vocal verve
8 famous speeches by young women

Entries by topic:
13 famous speeches by women about death and dying
For #EarthDay, 7 famous environmental speeches by women
7 famous speeches by women about health
13 famous human rights speeches by women
6 famous speeches by women about the law
6 diverse perspectives on LGBT issues
7 famous speeches by women on religion
6 famous speeches about voting by women speakers
5 famous speeches by women who fought for women's votes
16 famous UK and European speeches by women
10 famous speeches by women about war
8 famous speeches by women about (yes) women speakers

2 famous speeches by men. No, we're not making a habit of this:
Robert F. Kennedy on the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jimmy Carter at TEDWomen on religion and women speakers

Entries by name of speaker:
  1. Ai-Jen Poo at the United States Social Forum
  2. Aimee Semple McPherson's speech in a speakeasy
  3. Amelia Earhart's "A Woman's Place in Science"
  4. Angela Merkel's 2009 speech to the U.S. Congress
  5. Anita Hill's Senate testimony about Clarence Thomas
  6. Anita Sarkeesian on online harrassment
  7. Ann Richards's 1988 Democratic Convention keynote
  8. Anna Maria Chávez at 2011 Girl Scouts Convention
  9. Anne Summers on Julia Gillard's misogyny factor
  10. Annie Oakley's libel cases and courtroom speeches
  11. Aung San Suu Kyi's "Freedom from Fear" speech
  12. Barbara Jordan's Democratic Convention keynote
  13. Bella Abzug's American Express credit card ad parody
  14. Benazir Bhutto at the UN Conference on Women
  15. Betty Ford's 1975 speech to the American Cancer Society
  16. Betty Friedan's call for a women's strike
  17. Brené Brown's 2010 TEDx talk on vulnerability
  18. Carly Fiorina's post-9/11 speech
  19. Carol Bartz's commencement speech, "Embrace failure"
  20. Carol Bartz's keynote at the 2010 Grace Hopper Celebration
  21. Carol Burnett's live audience Q&A
  22. Caroline Criado-Perez on talking back to cyber bullies
  23. Caroline Kennedy's eulogy for Edward Kennedy
  24. Charlotte Church's lecture on sexism in music
  25. Chelsea Clinton's "Running in Heels" panel moderation
  26. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "We should all be feminists"
  27. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on likability
  28. Christine Lagarde on "dynamic resilience"
  29. Christine Lagarde at the Global Women's Forum
  30. Clara Barton's Andersonville testimony
  31. Coretta Scott King's "10 Commandments on Vietnam"
  32. Countess Markievicz on 1909's ideal free woman
  33. Danielle George's Royal Institution lecture
  34. Debbi Fields on building your small business
  35. Debi Jackson on her transgender child
  36. Devon Brooks talks about her sexual assault
  37. Princess Diana and the ban on landmines
  38. Diana Nyad at TEDMED on dreams, determination and defeat
  39. Diane Kelly on what we don't know about penis anatomy
  40. Dolores Huerta at the Delano Grape Strike March
  41. Dominique Christina's "The Period Poem"
  42. Dorothy Sayers and the lost tools of learning
  43. Edwidge Danticat's testimony on death in detention
  44. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Declaration of Human Rights
  45. Eleanor Roosevelt's 1940 convention-saving speech
  46. Eleanor Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor radio address
  47. Elisabeth Murdoch's lecture to the UK television industry
  48. Elizabeth I's speech to the troops at Tilbury
  49. Elizabeth II's tribute to Princess Diana 
  50. Elizabeth Glazer's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Democratic National Convention
  51. Elizabeth Warren on The Daily Show in 2009
  52. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: "If your dreams do not scare you..."
  53. Elyn Saks on her schizophrenia: "Please do send flowers"
  54. Emmeline Pankhurst's "Freedom or Death"
  55. Dame Enid Lyon's "Strike a Human Heart" speech
  56. Essie Washington-Williams: "I feel completely free"
  57. Evita Peron's 1951 Renunciamiento
  58. Fannie Lou Hamer's 1964 convention committee testimony
  59. Frances Perkins on the roots of Social Security
  60. Francine Wheeler's radio address on gun control reform
  61. Gabourey Sidibe's 2014 speech at the Gloria Awards
  62. Gabrielle Giffords's resignation from Congress
  63. Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 acceptance speech
  64. Tech pioneer Grace Hopper explains nanoseconds
  65. Rep. Gwen Moore on abortion rights and family planning
  66. Heidi Damon faces her attacker in court
  67. Helen Keller: "Strike Against War" and "I am not dumb now"
  68. Hillary Clinton's concession speech
  69. Hillary Clinton's "women's rights are human rights" speech
  70. Hillary Clinton's 2012 statement on the 9/11 killings of Americans in Libya
  71. Huda Shaarawi at the 1944 Arab Feminist Conference
  72. Ida Tarbell's 1916 "Industrial Idealism"
  73. Ida B. Wells's 1909 "This Awful Slaughter"
  74. Indira Gandhi's "What Educated Women Can Do"
  75. Indra Nooyi's "middle finger" speech
  76. Jackie Kennedy's 1962 televised tour of the White House
  77. Rep. Jackie Speier on abortion and family planning services
  78. Jane Fonda's TEDxWomen talk on "Life's Third Act"
  79. Jane Goodall's "What Separates Us from the Apes"
  80. Jeane Kirkpatrick's "Blame America First"
  81. Jeannette Rankin's "I cannot vote for war"
  82. Jennifer Granholm's 2005 tribute to Rosa Parks
  83. TV anchor Jennifer Livingston on her weight
  84. South Carolina Rep. Jenny Horne's Confederate flag speech
  85. Jessica Mendoza calls a major league baseball playoff
  86. Jill Abramson's "to anyone who's been dumped"
  87. Jill Bolte Taylor's "stroke of insight" TED talk
  88. Joyce Banda's tribute to Nelson Mandela
  89. Julia Child's "The French Chef" cooking demos
  90. Julie Andrews's 1964 Golden Globes speech
  91. Juliette Gordon Low's 1924 Girl Scouts speech
  92. Jutta Bojsen-Møller's victory for votes speech
  93. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard at ANZAC Day
  94. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech on misogyny
  95. Katharine Hayhoe's climate change elevator pitch
  96. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner at the United Nations climate summit
  97. Kavita Krishnan on safety and India's rape culture
  98. Kayla Kearney comes out to her high school assembly
  99. Keila Banks's "Undefinable Me"
  100. Kelly Johnson's Miss America talk on nursing
  101. Kerry Washington on the risk of public speaking
  102. Lady Bird Johnson's 1964 whistlestop tour 
  103. Lady Gaga's speech at Rome Europride
  104. Laverne Cox on transgender activism
  105. Leymah Gbowee's "Step out of the shadows"
  106. Lily Myers's "Shrinking Women"
  107. Linda Cliatt-Wayman on fixing broken schools
  108. Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori's unseen Tony Awards speech
  109. Lucille Ball at her Variety Club tribute
  110. Lupita Nyong'o on black beauty
  111. Lupita Nyong'o on following your fear
  112. Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair on The Donohue Show
  113. Malala Yousafzai's first statement since her shooting
  114. Malala Yousafzai's UN speech on youth education
  115. Manal al-Sharif on the Drive to Freedom
  116. Margaret Edson's 2008 Smith College commencement speech
  117. Margaret Sanger, The Children's Era 
  118. Margaret Chase Smith's 1950 Declaration of Conscience
  119. Margaret Thatcher's "Iron Lady" speech
  120. Maria Klawe on asking for salary increases
  121. Maria Shriver on "The Power of the Pause"
  122. Marie Colvin's eulogy for fallen war correspondents
  123. Marie Curie's 1911 Nobel lecture
  124. Marilyn Mosby on the Freddie Gray homicide
  125. Mary Beard on the public voice of women
  126. Mary Fisher's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Republican National Convention
  127. Mary Roach on 10 things you didn't know about orgasm
  128. Mary Robinson's inaugural speech as Ireland's president
  129. Rep. Maureen Walsh's speech on gay marriage
  130. Maya Angelou's eulogy for Coretta Scott King
  131. Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman"
  132. Melissa Rivers's tribute to Joan Rivers
  133. Meryl Streep on Emma Thompson and Walt Disney
  134. Mhairi Black's UK Parliament maiden speech
  135. Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech
  136. Michelle Obama's eulogy for Maya Angelou
  137. Michelle Obama's speech to young African women leaders
  138. 1994 lecture by Miep Gies, Anne Frank's protector
  139. Mindy Kaling at Harvard Law School's Class Day
  140. Monica Lewinsky at TED 2015
  141. Mother Jones Speaks to Striking West Virginia Miners in 1912
  142. Mother Teresa at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast
  143. Myrlie Evers-Williams's 2013 inaugural invocation
  144. Nancy Astor's "maiden speech" in Parliament
  145. Nellie McClung's "Should Men Vote?" speech
  146. British Olympic cyclist Nicole Cook's retirement speech
  147. Queen Noor's 1996 speech at the Kennedy Center
  148. Nora Ephron's commencement address at Wellesley College
  149. Patricia Arquette's 2015 Oscar speech and history lesson
  150. Penny Mordaunt's Loyal Address in Parliament
  151. Phyllis Diller on comedy at the 92nd Street Y
  152. Phyllis Rodriguez & Aicha el-Wafi on 9/11 forgiveness 
  153. Phyllis Schlafly's "What's Wrong with Equal Rights for Women?"
  154. Rachel Carson's "A New Chapter to Silent Spring"
  155. Rashema Melson's high school valedictory speech
  156. Rose Schneiderman on the Triangle Fire
  157. Ruth Reichl on not becoming her mother
  158. Sally Field at the 2012 Human Rights Campaign dinner
  159. Sally Ride's "Shoot for the Stars"
  160. Sandra Day O'Connor on "Portia's Progress"
  161. Sarah Kay's "Tshotsholoza"
  162. Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention
  163. Sarah Weddington's Roe v. Wade arguments
  164. Severn Suzuki's 1992 UN Earth Summit speech
  165. Shabana Rasij-Basikh on educating Afghan girls
  166. Sheena Iyengar's TED talk on the art of choosing
  167. Sheila Widnall on women in engineering
  168. Sheryl Sandberg's Barnard commencement address
  169. Shirley Chisholm introduces the Equal Rights Amendment
  170. Shonda Rhimes's "You Are Not Alone"
  171. Sister Simone Campbell and the nuns on a bus tour
  172. Sojourner Truth "Ain't I a Woman?"
  173. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's law school question
  174. Sophie Gustafson on stuttering as "part of who I am"
  175. Stav Shaffir and "What is a Zionist?"
  176. Stella Young's "I'm not your inspiration"
  177. Dame Stephanie Shirley at TED 2015
  178. Sue Austin's "most mobile person" at TEDMED
  179. Susan B. Anthony's "Is it a crime for a U.S. citizen to vote?"
  180. Tanni Grey-Thompson's "shout a bit louder" on disability
  181. Minister Teresa MacBain's "I am an Atheist"
  182. Rep. Terri Sewell's remarks at Selma
  183. Theresa May takes the UK Police Federation to task
  184. Tilda Swinton's "David Bowie Is" speech
  185. Toni Morrison's 2011 commencement address
  186. Ursula K. Leguin's "Left-handed commencement address"
  187. Ursula K. Leguin's "We are volcanoes"
  188. Vandana Shiva at 2014's Food Otherwise
  189. Victoria Woodhull's "Principles of Social Freedom"
  190. Viola Davis: "What keeps me in the business is hope"
  191. Viola Davis's commencement speech "Go on and live!"
  192. Viola Davis: "Everything should be spoken"
  193. Viola Davis at the 2015 Emmy Awards
  194. Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" lectures
  195. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai's hummingbird fable
  196. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis's filibuster
  197. Wilma Mankiller on rebuilding the Cherokee Nation
  198. Yulia Tymoshenko's "Heroes will never die"


Sheila Allee said...

Thank you, Denise, for this wonderful series on women speakers. I wish I'd thought of this myself! We hear a lot about men behind the lectern, but very little about women. I referenced your critiques in my blog post today.
Sheila Allee

Denise Graveline said...

I saw that nice shout-out, Sheila--thanks for your kind words about the Index. I hope you'll suggest famous women's speeches so we can keep this series going!