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 200 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
19 famous humorous speeches by women
9 famous radio and television speeches by women
5 famous speeches by women that made secrets public
39 famous women's speeches for Women's History Month (speeches 50 years old or older)

Entries by type of speaker:
38 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
11 famous speeches by women in engineering and technology
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

3 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
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox: "My heart has changed"

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. Berta Cáceres's 2015 Goldman Prize Speech
  16. Betty Ford's 1975 speech to the American Cancer Society
  17. Betty Friedan's call for a women's strike
  18. Beyoncé's speech on racism and fashion
  19. Brené Brown's 2010 TEDx talk on vulnerability
  20. Carly Fiorina's post-9/11 speech
  21. Carol Bartz's commencement speech, "Embrace failure"
  22. Carol Bartz's keynote at the 2010 Grace Hopper Celebration
  23. Carol Burnett's live audience Q&A
  24. Caroline Criado-Perez on talking back to cyber bullies
  25. Caroline Kennedy's eulogy for Edward Kennedy
  26. Chai Jing's 'Under the Dome' Documentary
  27. Charlotte Church's lecture on sexism in music
  28. Chelsea Clinton's "Running in Heels" panel moderation
  29. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "We should all be feminists"
  30. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on likability
  31. Christine Lagarde on "dynamic resilience"
  32. Christine Lagarde at the Global Women's Forum
  33. Cindy Wu's pitch at Y Combinator
  34. Clara Barton's Andersonville testimony
  35. Coretta Scott King's "10 Commandments on Vietnam"
  36. Countess Markievicz on 1909's ideal free woman
  37. Danielle George's Royal Institution lecture
  38. Debbi Fields on building your small business
  39. Debi Jackson on her transgender child
  40. Devon Brooks talks about her sexual assault
  41. Princess Diana and the ban on landmines
  42. Diana Nyad at TEDMED on dreams, determination and defeat
  43. Diane Kelly on what we don't know about penis anatomy
  44. Dolores Huerta at the Delano Grape Strike March
  45. Dominique Christina's "The Period Poem"
  46. Dorothy Fuldheim on the Kent State Shooting
  47. Dorothy Sayers and the lost tools of learning
  48. Edwidge Danticat's testimony on death in detention
  49. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Declaration of Human Rights
  50. Eleanor Roosevelt's 1940 convention-saving speech
  51. Eleanor Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor radio address
  52. Elisabeth Murdoch's lecture to the UK television industry
  53. Elizabeth I's speech to the troops at Tilbury
  54. Elizabeth II's tribute to Princess Diana 
  55. Elizabeth Glazer's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Democratic National Convention
  56. Elizabeth Warren on The Daily Show in 2009
  57. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: "If your dreams do not scare you..."
  58. Ellen Terry's lectures on Shakespeare's women
  59. Elyn Saks on her schizophrenia: "Please do send flowers"
  60. Emma Watson's United Nations 'feminist' speech
  61. Emmeline Pankhurst's "Freedom or Death"
  62. Dame Enid Lyon's "Strike a Human Heart" speech
  63. Essie Washington-Williams: "I feel completely free"
  64. Evita Peron's 1951 Renunciamiento
  65. Fannie Lou Hamer's 1964 convention committee testimony
  66. Frances Perkins on the roots of Social Security
  67. Francine Wheeler's radio address on gun control reform
  68. Gabourey Sidibe's 2014 speech at the Gloria Awards
  69. Gabrielle Giffords's resignation from Congress
  70. Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 acceptance speech
  71. Ginni Rometty at Northwestern University commencement
  72. Tech pioneer Grace Hopper explains nanoseconds
  73. Rep. Gwen Moore on abortion rights and family planning
  74. Harriet Tubman's fable on colonizing slaves
  75. Heidi Damon faces her attacker in court
  76. Helen Keller: "Strike Against War" and "I am not dumb now"
  77. Hillary Clinton answers a tough question
  78. Hillary Clinton's concession speech
  79. Hillary Clinton's 1969 commencement speech
  80. Hillary Clinton's "women's rights are human rights" speech
  81. Hillary Clinton's 2012 statement on the 9/11 killings of Americans in Libya
  82. Huda Shaarawi at the 1944 Arab Feminist Conference
  83. Ida Tarbell's 1916 "Industrial Idealism"
  84. Ida B. Wells's 1909 "This Awful Slaughter"
  85. Indira Gandhi's "What Educated Women Can Do"
  86. Indra Nooyi's "middle finger" speech
  87. Jackie Kennedy's 1962 televised tour of the White House
  88. Rep. Jackie Speier on abortion and family planning services
  89. Jane Fonda's TEDxWomen talk on "Life's Third Act"
  90. Jane Goodall's "What Separates Us from the Apes"
  91. Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch on 'thin'
  92. Jeane Kirkpatrick's "Blame America First"
  93. Jeannette Rankin's "I cannot vote for war"
  94. Jennifer Granholm's 2005 tribute to Rosa Parks
  95. TV anchor Jennifer Livingston on her weight
  96. South Carolina Rep. Jenny Horne's Confederate flag speech
  97. Jessica Mendoza calls a major league baseball playoff
  98. Jill Abramson's "to anyone who's been dumped"
  99. Jill Bolte Taylor's "stroke of insight" TED talk
  100. Joyce Banda's tribute to Nelson Mandela
  101. Julia Child's "The French Chef" cooking demos
  102. Julie Andrews's 1964 Golden Globes speech
  103. Juliette Gordon Low's 1924 Girl Scouts speech
  104. Jutta Bojsen-Møller's victory for votes speech
  105. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard at ANZAC Day
  106. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech on misogyny
  107. Katharine Hayhoe's climate change elevator pitch
  108. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner at the United Nations climate summit
  109. Kavita Krishnan on safety and India's rape culture
  110. Kayla Kearney comes out to her high school assembly
  111. Keila Banks's "Undefinable Me"
  112. Kelly Johnson's Miss America talk on nursing
  113. Kerry Washington on the risk of public speaking
  114. Lady Bird Johnson's 1964 whistlestop tour 
  115. Lady Gaga's speech at Rome Europride
  116. Laverne Cox on transgender activism
  117. Leymah Gbowee's "Step out of the shadows"
  118. Lily Myers's "Shrinking Women"
  119. Linda Cliatt-Wayman on fixing broken schools
  120. Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori's unseen Tony Awards speech
  121. Lucille Ball at her Variety Club tribute
  122. Lupita Nyong'o on black beauty
  123. Lupita Nyong'o on following your fear
  124. Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair on The Donohue Show
  125. Malala Yousafzai's first statement since her shooting
  126. Malala Yousafzai's UN speech on youth education
  127. Manal al-Sharif on the Drive to Freedom
  128. Margaret Edson's 2008 Smith College commencement speech
  129. Margaret Sanger, The Children's Era 
  130. Margaret Chase Smith's 1950 Declaration of Conscience
  131. Margaret Thatcher's "Iron Lady" speech
  132. Maria Klawe on asking for salary increases
  133. Maria Shriver on "The Power of the Pause"
  134. Marie Colvin's eulogy for fallen war correspondents
  135. Marie Curie's 1911 Nobel lecture
  136. Marilyn Mosby on the Freddie Gray homicide
  137. Mary Beard on the public voice of women
  138. Mary Fisher's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Republican National Convention
  139. Mary Roach on 10 things you didn't know about orgasm
  140. Mary Robinson's inaugural speech as Ireland's president
  141. Rep. Maureen Walsh's speech on gay marriage
  142. Maya Angelou's eulogy for Coretta Scott King
  143. Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman"
  144. Melissa Rivers's tribute to Joan Rivers
  145. Meryl Streep on Emma Thompson and Walt Disney
  146. Mhairi Black's UK Parliament maiden speech
  147. Michelle Obama at Tuskegee University
  148. Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech
  149. Michelle Obama's eulogy for Maya Angelou
  150. Michelle Obama's speech to young African women leaders
  151. Michelle Obama at Tuskegee University
  152. 1994 lecture by Miep Gies, Anne Frank's protector
  153. Mindy Kaling at Harvard Law School's Class Day
  154. Monica Lewinsky at TED 2015
  155. Mother Jones Speaks to Striking West Virginia Miners in 1912
  156. Mother Teresa at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast
  157. Myrlie Evers-Williams's 2013 inaugural invocation
  158. Nancy Astor's "maiden speech" in Parliament
  159. Nancy Hanks on the student she expelled
  160. Nellie McClung's "Should Men Vote?" speech
  161. British Olympic cyclist Nicole Cook's retirement speech
  162. Queen Noor's 1996 speech at the Kennedy Center
  163. Nora Ephron's commencement address at Wellesley College
  164. Patricia Arquette's 2015 Oscar speech and history lesson
  165. Penny Mordaunt's Loyal Address in Parliament
  166. Phyllis Diller on comedy at the 92nd Street Y
  167. Phyllis Rodriguez & Aicha el-Wafi on 9/11 forgiveness 
  168. Phyllis Schlafly's "What's Wrong with Equal Rights for Women?"
  169. Queen Latifah's "Keep Fighting for It"
  170. Rachel Carson's "A New Chapter to Silent Spring"
  171. Rashema Melson's high school valedictory speech
  172. Rose Schneiderman on the Triangle Fire
  173. Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Opinion in the VMI Case
  174. Ruth Reichl on not becoming her mother
  175. Sally Field at the 2012 Human Rights Campaign dinner
  176. Sally Ride's "Shoot for the Stars"
  177. Sandra Day O'Connor on "Portia's Progress"
  178. Sarah Kay's "Tshotsholoza"
  179. Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention
  180. Sarah Weddington's Roe v. Wade arguments
  181. Sarah Winnemucca's San Francisco lectures
  182. Severn Suzuki's 1992 UN Earth Summit speech
  183. Shabana Rasij-Basikh on educating Afghan girls
  184. Sheena Iyengar's TED talk on the art of choosing
  185. Sheila Widnall on women in engineering
  186. Sheryl Sandberg's Barnard commencement address
  187. Shirley Chisholm introduces the Equal Rights Amendment
  188. Shonda Rhimes's "You Are Not Alone"
  189. Sister Simone Campbell and the nuns on a bus tour
  190. Sojourner Truth "Ain't I a Woman?"
  191. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's law school question
  192. Sophie Gustafson on stuttering as "part of who I am"
  193. Stanford rape victim's statement to her rapist
  194. Stav Shaffir and "What is a Zionist?"
  195. Stella Young's "I'm not your inspiration"
  196. Dame Stephanie Shirley at TED 2015
  197. Sue Austin's "most mobile person" at TEDMED
  198. Susan B. Anthony's "Is it a crime for a U.S. citizen to vote?"
  199. Tanni Grey-Thompson's "shout a bit louder" on disability
  200. Minister Teresa MacBain's "I am an Atheist"
  201. Rep. Terri Sewell's remarks at Selma
  202. Tess Vigeland on quitting a job with no plan B
  203. Empress Theodora's throne-saving speech
  204. Theresa May takes the UK Police Federation to task
  205. Tilda Swinton's "David Bowie Is" speech
  206. Toni Morrison's 2011 commencement address
  207. Ursula K. Leguin's "Left-handed commencement address"
  208. Ursula K. Leguin's "We are volcanoes"
  209. Vandana Shiva at 2014's Food Otherwise
  210. Victoria Woodhull's "Principles of Social Freedom"
  211. Viola Davis: "What keeps me in the business is hope"
  212. Viola Davis's commencement speech "Go on and live!"
  213. Viola Davis: "Everything should be spoken"
  214. Viola Davis at the 2015 Emmy Awards
  215. Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" lectures
  216. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai's hummingbird fable
  217. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis's filibuster
  218. Wilma Mankiller on rebuilding the Cherokee Nation
  219. 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!