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 160 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
A 2014 Women's History Month sampler: 28 women's speeches that are 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
5 famous speeches by women about the environment
7 famous speeches by women about health
13 famous human rights speeches by women
6 famous speeches by women about the law
7 famous speeches by women on religion
6 famous speeches about voting by women speakers
16 famous UK and European speeches by women
10 famous speeches by women about war
8 famous speeches by women about (yes) women speakers

A famous speech by a man. No, we're not making a habit of this:
Robert F. Kennedy on the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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