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. Anita Hill's Senate testimony about Clarence Thomas
  5. Anita Sarkeesian on online harrassment
  6. Ann Richards's 1988 Democratic Convention keynote
  7. Anna Maria Chávez at 2011 Girl Scouts Convention
  8. Anne Summers on Julia Gillard's misogyny factor
  9. Annie Oakley's libel cases and courtroom speeches
  10. Aung San Suu Kyi's "Freedom from Fear" speech
  11. Barbara Jordan's Democratic Convention keynote
  12. Bella Abzug's American Express credit card ad parody
  13. Benazir Bhutto at the UN Conference on Women
  14. Betty Ford's 1975 speech to the American Cancer Society
  15. Betty Friedan's call for a women's strike
  16. Brené Brown's 2010 TEDx talk on vulnerability
  17. Carol Bartz's commencement speech, "Embrace failure"
  18. Carol Bartz's keynote at the 2010 Grace Hopper Celebration
  19. Carol Burnett's live audience Q&A
  20. Caroline Criado-Perez on talking back to cyber bullies
  21. Caroline Kennedy's eulogy for Edward Kennedy
  22. Charlotte Church's lecture on sexism in music
  23. Chelsea Clinton's "Running in Heels" panel moderation
  24. Chimamanda Adichie: "We should all be feminists"
  25. Christine Lagarde on "dynamic resilience"
  26. Christine Lagarde at the Global Women's Forum
  27. Clara Barton's Andersonville testimony
  28. Coretta Scott King's "10 Commandments on Vietnam"
  29. Countess Markievicz on 1909's ideal free woman
  30. Danielle George's Royal Institution lecture
  31. Debbi Fields on building your small business
  32. Debi Jackson on her transgender child
  33. Devon Brooks talks about her sexual assault
  34. Princess Diana and the ban on landmines
  35. Diana Nyad at TEDMED on dreams, determination and defeat
  36. Diane Kelly on what we don't know about penis anatomy
  37. Dominique Christina's "The Period Poem"
  38. Dorothy Sayers and the lost tools of learning
  39. Edwidge Danticat's testimony on death in detention
  40. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Declaration of Human Rights
  41. Eleanor Roosevelt's 1940 convention-saving speech
  42. Elisabeth Murdoch's lecture to the UK television industry
  43. Elizabeth I's speech to the troops at Tilbury
  44. Elizabeth II's tribute to Princess Diana 
  45. Elizabeth Glazer's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Democratic National Convention
  46. Elizabeth Warren on The Daily Show in 2009
  47. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: "If your dreams do not scare you..."
  48. Elyn Saks on her schizophrenia: "Please do send flowers"
  49. Emmeline Pankhurst's "Freedom or Death"
  50. Dame Enid Lyon's "Strike a Human Heart" speech
  51. Essie Washington-Williams: "I feel completely free"
  52. Evita Peron's 1951 Renunciamiento
  53. Fannie Lou Hamer's 1964 convention committee testimony
  54. Frances Perkins on the roots of Social Security
  55. Francine Wheeler's radio address on gun control reform
  56. Gabourey Sidibe's 2014 speech at the Gloria Awards
  57. Gabrielle Giffords's resignation from Congress
  58. Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 acceptance speech
  59. Tech pioneer Grace Hopper explains nanoseconds
  60. Rep. Gwen Moore on abortion rights and family planning
  61. Heidi Damon faces her attacker in court
  62. Helen Keller: "Strike Against War" and "I am not dumb now"
  63. Hillary Clinton's concession speech
  64. Hillary Clinton's "women's rights are human rights" speech
  65. Hillary Clinton's 2012 statement on the 9/11 killings of Americans in Libya
  66. Huda Shaarawi at the 1944 Arab Feminist Conference
  67. Ida Tarbell's 1916 "Industrial Idealism"
  68. Ida B. Wells's 1909 "This Awful Slaughter"
  69. Indira Gandhi's "What Educated Women Can Do"
  70. Indra Nooyi's "middle finger" speech
  71. Jackie Kennedy's 1962 televised tour of the White House
  72. Rep. Jackie Speier on abortion and family planning services
  73. Jane Fonda's TEDxWomen talk on "Life's Third Act"
  74. Jane Goodall's "What Separates Us from the Apes"
  75. Jeane Kirkpatrick's "Blame America First"
  76. Jennifer Granholm's 2005 tribute to Rosa Parks
  77. TV anchor Jennifer Livingston on her weight
  78. South Carolina Rep. Jenny Horne's Confederate flag speech
  79. Jill Abramson's "to anyone who's been dumped"
  80. Jill Bolte Taylor's "stroke of insight" TED talk
  81. Joyce Banda's tribute to Nelson Mandela
  82. Julia Child's "The French Chef" cooking demos
  83. Julie Andrews's 1964 Golden Globes speech
  84. Juliette Gordon Low's 1924 Girl Scouts speech
  85. Jutta Bojsen-Møller's victory for votes speech
  86. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard at ANZAC Day
  87. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech on misogyny
  88. Katharine Hayhoe's climate change elevator pitch
  89. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner at the United Nations climate summit
  90. Kavita Krishnan on safety and India's rape culture
  91. Kayla Kearney comes out to her high school assembly
  92. Kerry Washington on the risk of public speaking
  93. Lady Bird Johnson's 1964 whistlestop tour 
  94. Lady Gaga's speech at Rome Europride
  95. Laverne Cox on transgender activism
  96. Leymah Gbowee's "Step out of the shadows"
  97. Lily Myers's "Shrinking Women"
  98. Linda Cliatt-Wayman on fixing broken schools
  99. Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori's unseen Tony Awards speech
  100. Lucille Ball at her Variety Club tribute
  101. Lupita Nyong'o on black beauty
  102. Lupita Nyong'o on following your fear
  103. Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair on The Donohue Show
  104. Malala Yousafzai's first statement since her shooting
  105. Malala Yousafzai's UN speech on youth education
  106. Manal al-Sharif on the Drive to Freedom
  107. Margaret Edson's 2008 Smith College commencement speech
  108. Margaret Sanger, The Children's Era 
  109. Margaret Chase Smith's 1950 Declaration of Conscience
  110. Margaret Thatcher's "Iron Lady" speech
  111. Maria Klawe on asking for salary increases
  112. Maria Shriver on "The Power of the Pause"
  113. Marie Colvin's eulogy for fallen war correspondents
  114. Marie Curie's 1911 Nobel lecture
  115. Marilyn Mosby on the Freddie Gray homicide
  116. Mary Beard on the public voice of women
  117. Mary Fisher's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Republican National Convention
  118. Mary Roach on 10 things you didn't know about orgasm
  119. Mary Robinson's inaugural speech as Ireland's president
  120. Rep. Maureen Walsh's speech on gay marriage
  121. Maya Angelou's eulogy for Coretta Scott King
  122. Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman"
  123. Melissa Rivers's tribute to Joan Rivers
  124. Meryl Streep on Emma Thompson and Walt Disney
  125. Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech
  126. Michelle Obama's eulogy for Maya Angelou
  127. Michelle Obama's speech to young African women leaders
  128. 1994 lecture by Miep Gies, Anne Frank's protector
  129. Mindy Kaling at Harvard Law School's Class Day
  130. Monica Lewinsky at TED 2015
  131. Mother Jones Speaks to Striking West Virginia Miners in 1912
  132. Mother Teresa at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast
  133. Myrlie Evers-Williams's 2013 inaugural invocation
  134. Nancy Astor's "maiden speech" in Parliament
  135. Nellie McClung's "Should Men Vote?" speech
  136. British Olympic cyclist Nicole Cook's retirement speech
  137. Queen Noor's 1996 speech at the Kennedy Center
  138. Nora Ephron's commencement address at Wellesley College
  139. Patricia Arquette's 2015 Oscar speech and history lesson
  140. Penny Mordaunt's Loyal Address in Parliament
  141. Phyllis Diller on comedy at the 92nd Street Y
  142. Phyllis Rodriguez & Aicha el-Wafi on 9/11 forgiveness 
  143. Phyllis Schlafly's "What's Wrong with Equal Rights for Women?"
  144. Rachel Carson's "A New Chapter to Silent Spring"
  145. Rashema Melson's high school valedictory speech
  146. Rose Schneiderman on the Triangle Fire
  147. Ruth Reichl on not becoming her mother
  148. Sally Field at the 2012 Human Rights Campaign dinner
  149. Sally Ride's "Shoot for the Stars"
  150. Sandra Day O'Connor on "Portia's Progress"
  151. Sarah Kay's "Tshotsholoza"
  152. Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention
  153. Sarah Weddington's Roe v. Wade arguments
  154. Severn Suzuki's 1992 UN Earth Summit speech
  155. Shabana Rasij-Basikh on educating Afghan girls
  156. Sheena Iyengar's TED talk on the art of choosing
  157. Sheila Widnall on women in engineering
  158. Sheryl Sandberg's Barnard commencement address
  159. Shirley Chisholm introduces the Equal Rights Amendment
  160. Sister Simone Campbell and the nuns on a bus tour
  161. Sojourner Truth "Ain't I a Woman?"
  162. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's law school question
  163. Sophie Gustafson on stuttering as "part of who I am"
  164. Stav Shaffir and "What is a Zionist?"
  165. Stella Young's "I'm not your inspiration"
  166. Dame Stephanie Shirley at TED 2015
  167. Sue Austin's "most mobile person" at TEDMED
  168. Susan B. Anthony's "Is it a crime for a U.S. citizen to vote?"
  169. Tanni Grey-Thompson's "shout a bit louder" on disability
  170. Minister Teresa MacBain's "I am an Atheist"
  171. Rep. Terri Sewell's remarks at Selma
  172. Theresa May takes the UK Police Federation to task
  173. Tilda Swinton's "David Bowie Is" speech
  174. Ursula K. Leguin's "Left-handed commencement address"
  175. Ursula K. Leguin's "We are volcanoes"
  176. Vandana Shiva at 2014's Food Otherwise
  177. Victoria Woodhull's "Principles of Social Freedom"
  178. Viola Davis: "What keeps me in the business is hope"
  179. Viola Davis's commencement speech "Go on and live!"
  180. Viola Davis: "Everything should be spoken"
  181. Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" lectures
  182. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai's hummingbird fable
  183. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis's filibuster
  184. Wilma Mankiller on rebuilding the Cherokee Nation
  185. 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!