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 250 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:
15 famous commencement speeches by women
8 famous speeches by women before the U.S. Congress
6 famous extemporaneous speeches by women
19 famous humorous speeches by women
7 famous poetic speeches by women
13 famous U.S. political convention speeches by women
12 famous protest 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:
46 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
6 famous speeches by Hispanic women
9 famous speeches by Indian, Pakistani, or Indian-American women
#CanYouHearUsNow? 8 famous speeches by Muslim women
9 famous speeches by women legislators
6 famous speeches by women scientists
For #marchforscience, 13 famous speeches by women scientists & engineers
5 famous speeches by women who feared public speaking
28 famous speeches by women in the United Kingdom
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. Japan First Lady Akie Abe's keynote speech in English
  4. Amal Clooney at the United Nations on Nadia Murad
  5. Amelia Earhart's "A Woman's Place in Science"
  6. Amy Schumer shuts down a heckler
  7. Angela Merkel's 2009 speech to the U.S. Congress
  8. Angelina Grimké's 1838 speech at Pennsylvania Hall
  9. Anita Hill's Senate testimony about Clarence Thomas
  10. Anita Sarkeesian on online harrassment
  11. Anita Sarkeesian tackles trolls at VidCon
  12. Ann Richards's 1988 Democratic Convention keynote
  13. Anna Maria Chávez at 2011 Girl Scouts Convention
  14. Anne Summers on Julia Gillard's misogyny factor
  15. Annie Oakley's libel cases and courtroom speeches
  16. Arianna Huffington's "Thrive" commencement speech
  17. Arianna Huffington at the Uber all-hands
  18. Ashley Judd at the 2017 Women's March
  19. Aung San Suu Kyi's "Freedom from Fear" speech
  20. Barbara Jordan's Democratic Convention keynote
  21. Bella Abzug's American Express credit card ad parody
  22. Benazir Bhutto at the UN Conference on Women
  23. Berta Cáceres's 2015 Goldman Prize Speech
  24. Hawaii Rep. Beth Fukumoto at the Women's March
  25. Bette Midler at the 2017 Tony Awards
  26. Betty Ford's 1975 speech to the American Cancer Society
  27. Betty Friedan's call for a women's strike
  28. Beyoncé's speech on racism and fashion
  29. Billie Jean King at the FIFA Women's Conference
  30. Brené Brown's 2010 TEDx talk on vulnerability
  31. Carly Fiorina's post-9/11 speech
  32. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz: "We Are Dying Here"
  33. Carol Bartz's commencement speech, "Embrace failure"
  34. Carol Bartz's keynote at the 2010 Grace Hopper Celebration
  35. Carol Burnett's live audience Q&A
  36. Caroline Criado-Perez on talking back to cyber bullies
  37. Caroline Kennedy's eulogy for Edward Kennedy
  38. Carrie Fisher roasts George Lucas
  39. Chai Jing's 'Under the Dome' Documentary
  40. Charlotte Church's lecture on sexism in music
  41. Chelsea Clinton's "Running in Heels" panel moderation
  42. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "We should all be feminists"
  43. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on likability
  44. Christine Lagarde on "dynamic resilience"
  45. Christine Lagarde at the Global Women's Forum
  46. Cindy Wu's pitch at Y Combinator
  47. Clara Barton's Andersonville testimony
  48. Coretta Scott King's "10 Commandments on Vietnam"
  49. Countess Markievicz on 1909's ideal free woman
  50. Danielle George's Royal Institution lecture
  51. Debbi Fields on building your small business
  52. Debi Jackson on her transgender child
  53. Devon Brooks talks about her sexual assault
  54. Princess Diana and the ban on landmines
  55. Diana Nyad at TEDMED on dreams, determination and defeat
  56. Diane Kelly on what we don't know about penis anatomy
  57. Dilma Rousseff's post-impeachment speech
  58. Dolores Huerta at the Delano Grape Strike March
  59. Dominique Christina's "The Period Poem"
  60. Dorothy Fuldheim on the Kent State Shooting
  61. Dorothy Sayers and the lost tools of learning
  62. Edwidge Danticat's testimony on death in detention
  63. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Declaration of Human Rights
  64. Eleanor Roosevelt's 1940 convention-saving speech
  65. Eleanor Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor radio address
  66. Elisabeth Murdoch's lecture to the UK television industry
  67. Elizabeth I's speech to the troops at Tilbury
  68. Elizabeth I's 1563 speech on her singlehood
  69. Elizabeth II's tribute to Princess Diana 
  70. Elizabeth Glazer's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Democratic National Convention
  71. Elizabeth Warren on The Daily Show in 2009
  72. Elizabeth Warren's silencing in the U.S. Senate
  73. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: "If your dreams do not scare you..."
  74. Ellen Terry's lectures on Shakespeare's women
  75. Elyn Saks on her schizophrenia: "Please do send flowers"
  76. Emma Watson's United Nations 'feminist' speech
  77. Emmeline Pankhurst's "Freedom or Death"
  78. Dame Enid Lyon's "Strike a Human Heart" speech
  79. Essie Washington-Williams: "I feel completely free"
  80. Evita Peron's 1951 Renunciamiento
  81. Fannie Lou Hamer's 1964 convention committee testimony
  82. Frances Perkins on the roots of Social Security
  83. Francine Wheeler's radio address on gun control reform
  84. Gabourey Sidibe's 2014 speech at the Gloria Awards
  85. Gabrielle Giffords's resignation from Congress
  86. Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 acceptance speech
  87. Ginni Rometty at Northwestern University commencement
  88. Tech pioneer Grace Hopper explains nanoseconds
  89. Gwen Ifill on politics, policy, and leadership
  90. Rep. Gwen Moore on abortion rights and family planning
  91. Harriet Tubman's fable on colonizing slaves
  92. Heidi Damon faces her attacker in court
  93. Helen Gahagan Douglas and the "Pink Lady" speech
  94. Helen Keller: "Strike Against War" and "I am not dumb now"
  95. Hillary Clinton accepts the presidential nomination
  96. Hillary Clinton answers a tough question
  97. Hillary Clinton's concession speech
  98. Hillary Clinton's 2016 concession speech
  99. Hillary Clinton's 1969 commencement speech
  100. Hillary Clinton's "women's rights are human rights" speech
  101. Hillary Clinton's 2012 statement on the 9/11 killings of Americans in Libya
  102. Holly Peterson on women in sports: 'the best adversity training'
  103. Huda Shaarawi at the 1944 Arab Feminist Conference
  104. Ida Tarbell's 1916 "Industrial Idealism"
  105. Ida B. Wells's 1909 "This Awful Slaughter"
  106. Indira Gandhi's "What Educated Women Can Do"
  107. Indra Nooyi's "middle finger" speech
  108. Jackie Kennedy's 1962 televised tour of the White House
  109. Rep. Jackie Speier on abortion and family planning services
  110. Jane Fonda's TEDxWomen talk on "Life's Third Act"
  111. Jane Goodall's "What Separates Us from the Apes"
  112. California State Senator Janet Nguyen's silencing
  113. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on holding women back
  114. Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch on 'thin'
  115. Jeane Kirkpatrick's "Blame America First"
  116. Jeannette Rankin's "I cannot vote for war"
  117. Jennifer Granholm's 2005 tribute to Rosa Parks
  118. TV anchor Jennifer Livingston on her weight
  119. South Carolina Rep. Jenny Horne's Confederate flag speech
  120. Jessica Mendoza calls a major league baseball playoff
  121. Jill Abramson's "to anyone who's been dumped"
  122. Jill Bolte Taylor's "stroke of insight" TED talk
  123. Joan Baez's Rock Hall induction speech
  124. Joyce Banda's tribute to Nelson Mandela
  125. Julia Child's "The French Chef" cooking demos
  126. Julie Andrews's 1964 Golden Globes speech
  127. Juliette Gordon Low's 1924 Girl Scouts speech
  128. Jutta Bojsen-Møller's victory for votes speech
  129. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard at ANZAC Day
  130. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech on misogyny
  131. Kamala Harris's interrupted Senate hearing questions
  132. Katharine Hayhoe's climate change elevator pitch
  133. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner at the United Nations climate summit
  134. Kavita Krishnan on safety and India's rape culture
  135. Kayla Kearney comes out to her high school assembly
  136. Keila Banks's "Undefinable Me"
  137. Kelly Johnson's Miss America talk on nursing
  138. Kerry Washington on the risk of public speaking
  139. Lady Bird Johnson's 1964 whistlestop tour  (updated here)
  140. Lady Gaga's speech at Rome Europride
  141. Laverne Cox on transgender activism
  142. Leymah Gbowee's "Step out of the shadows"
  143. Lily Myers's "Shrinking Women"
  144. Australian MP Linda Burney's maiden speech
  145. Linda Cliatt-Wayman on fixing broken schools
  146. Lionel Shriver's cultural appropriation speech
  147. Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori's unseen Tony Awards speech
  148. Lucille Ball at her Variety Club tribute
  149. Lupita Nyong'o on black beauty
  150. Lupita Nyong'o on following your fear
  151. Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair on The Donohue Show
  152. Malala Yousafzai's first statement since her shooting
  153. Malala Yousafzai's UN speech on youth education
  154. Malala Yousafzai at the Canadian Parliament
  155. Manal al-Sharif on the Drive to Freedom
  156. Margaret Edson's 2008 Smith College commencement speech
  157. Margaret Sanger, The Children's Era 
  158. Margaret Sanger's 1929 self-silencing speech
  159. Margaret Chase Smith's 1950 Declaration of Conscience
  160. Margaret Thatcher's "Iron Lady" speech
  161. Maria Klawe on asking for salary increases
  162. Maria Shriver on "The Power of the Pause"
  163. Marie Colvin's eulogy for fallen war correspondents
  164. Marie Curie's 1911 Nobel lecture
  165. Marilyn Mosby on the Freddie Gray homicide
  166. Mary Ann Shadd Cary's 1858 "Break Every Yoke"
  167. Mary Beard on the public voice of women
  168. Mary Beard on women in power
  169. Mary Fisher's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Republican National Convention
  170. Mary Roach on 10 things you didn't know about orgasm
  171. Mary Robinson's inaugural speech as Ireland's president
  172. Rep. Maureen Walsh's speech on gay marriage
  173. Rep. Maxine Waters's "reclaiming my time"
  174. Maya Angelou's eulogy for Coretta Scott King
  175. Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman"
  176. Melania Trump's speech at the 2016 Republican convention
  177. Minnesota Rep. Melissa Hortman calls out her white male colleagues
  178. Melissa Rivers's tribute to Joan Rivers
  179. Meryl Streep on Emma Thompson and Walt Disney
  180. Meryl Streep's 2017 Golden Globes speech
  181. Mhairi Black's UK Parliament maiden speech
  182. Michelle Obama's 'a house built by slaves'
  183. Michelle Obama's "Enough is enough" speech
  184. Michelle Obama at Tuskegee University
  185. Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech
  186. Michelle Obama's eulogy for Maya Angelou
  187. Michelle Obama's speech to young African women leaders
  188. 1994 lecture by Miep Gies, Anne Frank's protector
  189. Mindy Kaling at Harvard Law School's Class Day
  190. Monica Lewinsky at TED 2015
  191. Mother Jones Speaks to Striking West Virginia Miners in 1912
  192. Mother Teresa at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast
  193. Myrlie Evers-Williams's 2013 inaugural invocation
  194. Nancy Astor's "maiden speech" in Parliament
  195. Nancy Hanks on the student she expelled
  196. Nellie McClung's "Should Men Vote?" speech
  197. British Olympic cyclist Nicole Cook's retirement speech
  198. Queen Noor's 1996 speech at the Kennedy Center
  199. Nora Ephron's commencement address at Wellesley College
  200. Olivia Gatwood's "Ode to My Bitch Face"
  201. Park Geun-Hye's pre-impeachment speech
  202. Patricia Arquette's 2015 Oscar speech and history lesson
  203. Patti Smith on the artist's journey
  204. Patty Duke's 1970 Emmy Awards speech
  205. Penny Mordaunt's Loyal Address in Parliament
  206. Phyllis Diller on comedy at the 92nd Street Y
  207. Judge Phyllis Randolph Frye's "My Son"
  208. Phyllis Rodriguez & Aicha el-Wafi on 9/11 forgiveness 
  209. Phyllis Schlafly's "What's Wrong with Equal Rights for Women?"
  210. Queen Latifah's "Keep Fighting for It"
  211. Rachel Carson's "A New Chapter to Silent Spring"
  212. Rashema Melson's high school valedictory speech
  213. Rose Schneiderman on the Triangle Fire
  214. Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Opinion in the VMI Case
  215. Ruth Reichl on not becoming her mother
  216. Sally Field at the 2012 Human Rights Campaign dinner
  217. Sally Ride's "Shoot for the Stars"
  218. Sally Yates on your moral compass
  219. Sandra Day O'Connor on "Portia's Progress"
  220. Sarah Kay's "Tshotsholoza"
  221. Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention
  222. Sarah Weddington's Roe v. Wade arguments
  223. Sarah Winnemucca's San Francisco lectures
  224. Severn Suzuki's 1992 UN Earth Summit speech
  225. Shabana Rasij-Basikh on educating Afghan girls
  226. Sheena Iyengar's TED talk on the art of choosing
  227. HBO's Sheila Nevins's interview with Alec Baldwin
  228. Sheila Widnall on women in engineering
  229. Sheryl Sandberg's Barnard commencement address
  230. Shirley Chisholm introduces the Equal Rights Amendment
  231. Shirley Chisholm's 1972 contested presidential debate time
  232. Shonda Rhimes's "You Are Not Alone"
  233. Sister Simone Campbell and the nuns on a bus tour
  234. Sojourner Truth "Ain't I a Woman?"
  235. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's law school question
  236. Sophie Gustafson on stuttering as "part of who I am"
  237. Stanford rape victim's statement to her rapist
  238. Stav Shaffir and "What is a Zionist?"
  239. Stella Young's "I'm not your inspiration"
  240. Dame Stephanie Shirley at TED 2015
  241. Sue Austin's "most mobile person" at TEDMED
  242. Susan B. Anthony's "Is it a crime for a U.S. citizen to vote?"
  243. Susan Bro:"They tried to kill my child to shut her up"
  244. Tanni Grey-Thompson's "shout a bit louder" on disability
  245. Taylor Swift's harassment testimony
  246. Minister Teresa MacBain's "I am an Atheist"
  247. Rep. Terri Sewell's remarks at Selma
  248. Tess Vigeland on quitting a job with no plan B
  249. Empress Theodora's throne-saving speech
  250. Theresa May takes the UK Police Federation to task
  251. Theresa May's first Prime Minister's Questions
  252. Theresa May's interrupted speech
  253. Tilda Swinton's "David Bowie Is" speech
  254. Toni Morrison's 2011 commencement address
  255. Toni Morrison's Nobel lecture on language
  256. Ursula K. Leguin's "Left-handed commencement address"
  257. Ursula K. Leguin's "We are volcanoes"
  258. Vandana Shiva at 2014's Food Otherwise
  259. Victoria Woodhull's "Principles of Social Freedom"
  260. Viola Davis: "What keeps me in the business is hope"
  261. Viola Davis's commencement speech "Go on and live!"
  262. Viola Davis: "Everything should be spoken"
  263. Viola Davis at the 2015 Emmy Awards
  264. Viola Davis's introduction of Meryl Streep at the 2017 Golden Globe awards
  265. Viola Davis accepts an historic 2017 Oscar
  266. Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" lectures
  267. Virginia Woolf's 1931 "Professions for Women"
  268. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai's hummingbird fable
  269. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis's filibuster
  270. Wilma Mankiller on rebuilding the Cherokee Nation
  271. 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!