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

2 comments:

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!