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