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