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 150 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:
17 famous speeches by African-American women speakers
4 famous speeches by women athletes
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

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

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