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
19 famous humorous 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:
38 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
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 Fuldheim on the Kent State Shooting
  45. Dorothy Sayers and the lost tools of learning
  46. Edwidge Danticat's testimony on death in detention
  47. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Declaration of Human Rights
  48. Eleanor Roosevelt's 1940 convention-saving speech
  49. Eleanor Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor radio address
  50. Elisabeth Murdoch's lecture to the UK television industry
  51. Elizabeth I's speech to the troops at Tilbury
  52. Elizabeth II's tribute to Princess Diana 
  53. Elizabeth Glazer's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Democratic National Convention
  54. Elizabeth Warren on The Daily Show in 2009
  55. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: "If your dreams do not scare you..."
  56. Ellen Terry's lectures on Shakespeare's women
  57. Elyn Saks on her schizophrenia: "Please do send flowers"
  58. Emma Watson's United Nations 'feminist' speech
  59. Emmeline Pankhurst's "Freedom or Death"
  60. Dame Enid Lyon's "Strike a Human Heart" speech
  61. Essie Washington-Williams: "I feel completely free"
  62. Evita Peron's 1951 Renunciamiento
  63. Fannie Lou Hamer's 1964 convention committee testimony
  64. Frances Perkins on the roots of Social Security
  65. Francine Wheeler's radio address on gun control reform
  66. Gabourey Sidibe's 2014 speech at the Gloria Awards
  67. Gabrielle Giffords's resignation from Congress
  68. Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 acceptance speech
  69. Ginni Rometty at Northwestern University commencement
  70. Tech pioneer Grace Hopper explains nanoseconds
  71. Rep. Gwen Moore on abortion rights and family planning
  72. Harriet Tubman's fable on colonizing slaves
  73. Heidi Damon faces her attacker in court
  74. Helen Keller: "Strike Against War" and "I am not dumb now"
  75. Hillary Clinton answers a tough question
  76. Hillary Clinton's concession speech
  77. Hillary Clinton's "women's rights are human rights" speech
  78. Hillary Clinton's 2012 statement on the 9/11 killings of Americans in Libya
  79. Huda Shaarawi at the 1944 Arab Feminist Conference
  80. Ida Tarbell's 1916 "Industrial Idealism"
  81. Ida B. Wells's 1909 "This Awful Slaughter"
  82. Indira Gandhi's "What Educated Women Can Do"
  83. Indra Nooyi's "middle finger" speech
  84. Jackie Kennedy's 1962 televised tour of the White House
  85. Rep. Jackie Speier on abortion and family planning services
  86. Jane Fonda's TEDxWomen talk on "Life's Third Act"
  87. Jane Goodall's "What Separates Us from the Apes"
  88. Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch on 'thin'
  89. Jeane Kirkpatrick's "Blame America First"
  90. Jeannette Rankin's "I cannot vote for war"
  91. Jennifer Granholm's 2005 tribute to Rosa Parks
  92. TV anchor Jennifer Livingston on her weight
  93. South Carolina Rep. Jenny Horne's Confederate flag speech
  94. Jessica Mendoza calls a major league baseball playoff
  95. Jill Abramson's "to anyone who's been dumped"
  96. Jill Bolte Taylor's "stroke of insight" TED talk
  97. Joyce Banda's tribute to Nelson Mandela
  98. Julia Child's "The French Chef" cooking demos
  99. Julie Andrews's 1964 Golden Globes speech
  100. Juliette Gordon Low's 1924 Girl Scouts speech
  101. Jutta Bojsen-Møller's victory for votes speech
  102. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard at ANZAC Day
  103. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech on misogyny
  104. Katharine Hayhoe's climate change elevator pitch
  105. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner at the United Nations climate summit
  106. Kavita Krishnan on safety and India's rape culture
  107. Kayla Kearney comes out to her high school assembly
  108. Keila Banks's "Undefinable Me"
  109. Kelly Johnson's Miss America talk on nursing
  110. Kerry Washington on the risk of public speaking
  111. Lady Bird Johnson's 1964 whistlestop tour 
  112. Lady Gaga's speech at Rome Europride
  113. Laverne Cox on transgender activism
  114. Leymah Gbowee's "Step out of the shadows"
  115. Lily Myers's "Shrinking Women"
  116. Linda Cliatt-Wayman on fixing broken schools
  117. Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori's unseen Tony Awards speech
  118. Lucille Ball at her Variety Club tribute
  119. Lupita Nyong'o on black beauty
  120. Lupita Nyong'o on following your fear
  121. Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair on The Donohue Show
  122. Malala Yousafzai's first statement since her shooting
  123. Malala Yousafzai's UN speech on youth education
  124. Manal al-Sharif on the Drive to Freedom
  125. Margaret Edson's 2008 Smith College commencement speech
  126. Margaret Sanger, The Children's Era 
  127. Margaret Chase Smith's 1950 Declaration of Conscience
  128. Margaret Thatcher's "Iron Lady" speech
  129. Maria Klawe on asking for salary increases
  130. Maria Shriver on "The Power of the Pause"
  131. Marie Colvin's eulogy for fallen war correspondents
  132. Marie Curie's 1911 Nobel lecture
  133. Marilyn Mosby on the Freddie Gray homicide
  134. Mary Beard on the public voice of women
  135. Mary Fisher's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Republican National Convention
  136. Mary Roach on 10 things you didn't know about orgasm
  137. Mary Robinson's inaugural speech as Ireland's president
  138. Rep. Maureen Walsh's speech on gay marriage
  139. Maya Angelou's eulogy for Coretta Scott King
  140. Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman"
  141. Melissa Rivers's tribute to Joan Rivers
  142. Meryl Streep on Emma Thompson and Walt Disney
  143. Mhairi Black's UK Parliament maiden speech
  144. Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech
  145. Michelle Obama's eulogy for Maya Angelou
  146. Michelle Obama's speech to young African women leaders
  147. Michelle Obama at Tuskegee University
  148. 1994 lecture by Miep Gies, Anne Frank's protector
  149. Mindy Kaling at Harvard Law School's Class Day
  150. Monica Lewinsky at TED 2015
  151. Mother Jones Speaks to Striking West Virginia Miners in 1912
  152. Mother Teresa at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast
  153. Myrlie Evers-Williams's 2013 inaugural invocation
  154. Nancy Astor's "maiden speech" in Parliament
  155. Nancy Hanks on the student she expelled
  156. Nellie McClung's "Should Men Vote?" speech
  157. British Olympic cyclist Nicole Cook's retirement speech
  158. Queen Noor's 1996 speech at the Kennedy Center
  159. Nora Ephron's commencement address at Wellesley College
  160. Patricia Arquette's 2015 Oscar speech and history lesson
  161. Penny Mordaunt's Loyal Address in Parliament
  162. Phyllis Diller on comedy at the 92nd Street Y
  163. Phyllis Rodriguez & Aicha el-Wafi on 9/11 forgiveness 
  164. Phyllis Schlafly's "What's Wrong with Equal Rights for Women?"
  165. Queen Latifah's "Keep Fighting for It"
  166. Rachel Carson's "A New Chapter to Silent Spring"
  167. Rashema Melson's high school valedictory speech
  168. Rose Schneiderman on the Triangle Fire
  169. Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Opinion in the VMI Case
  170. Ruth Reichl on not becoming her mother
  171. Sally Field at the 2012 Human Rights Campaign dinner
  172. Sally Ride's "Shoot for the Stars"
  173. Sandra Day O'Connor on "Portia's Progress"
  174. Sarah Kay's "Tshotsholoza"
  175. Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention
  176. Sarah Weddington's Roe v. Wade arguments
  177. Sarah Winnemucca's San Francisco lectures
  178. Severn Suzuki's 1992 UN Earth Summit speech
  179. Shabana Rasij-Basikh on educating Afghan girls
  180. Sheena Iyengar's TED talk on the art of choosing
  181. Sheila Widnall on women in engineering
  182. Sheryl Sandberg's Barnard commencement address
  183. Shirley Chisholm introduces the Equal Rights Amendment
  184. Shonda Rhimes's "You Are Not Alone"
  185. Sister Simone Campbell and the nuns on a bus tour
  186. Sojourner Truth "Ain't I a Woman?"
  187. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's law school question
  188. Sophie Gustafson on stuttering as "part of who I am"
  189. Stav Shaffir and "What is a Zionist?"
  190. Stella Young's "I'm not your inspiration"
  191. Dame Stephanie Shirley at TED 2015
  192. Sue Austin's "most mobile person" at TEDMED
  193. Susan B. Anthony's "Is it a crime for a U.S. citizen to vote?"
  194. Tanni Grey-Thompson's "shout a bit louder" on disability
  195. Minister Teresa MacBain's "I am an Atheist"
  196. Rep. Terri Sewell's remarks at Selma
  197. Tess Vigeland on quitting a job with no plan B
  198. Theresa May takes the UK Police Federation to task
  199. Tilda Swinton's "David Bowie Is" speech
  200. Toni Morrison's 2011 commencement address
  201. Ursula K. Leguin's "Left-handed commencement address"
  202. Ursula K. Leguin's "We are volcanoes"
  203. Vandana Shiva at 2014's Food Otherwise
  204. Victoria Woodhull's "Principles of Social Freedom"
  205. Viola Davis: "What keeps me in the business is hope"
  206. Viola Davis's commencement speech "Go on and live!"
  207. Viola Davis: "Everything should be spoken"
  208. Viola Davis at the 2015 Emmy Awards
  209. Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" lectures
  210. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai's hummingbird fable
  211. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis's filibuster
  212. Wilma Mankiller on rebuilding the Cherokee Nation
  213. 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!