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
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. Amal Clooney at the United Nations on Nadia Murad
  4. Amelia Earhart's "A Woman's Place in Science"
  5. Amy Schumer shuts down a heckler
  6. Angela Merkel's 2009 speech to the U.S. Congress
  7. Angelina Grimké's 1838 speech at Pennsylvania Hall
  8. Anita Hill's Senate testimony about Clarence Thomas
  9. Anita Sarkeesian on online harrassment
  10. Ann Richards's 1988 Democratic Convention keynote
  11. Anna Maria Chávez at 2011 Girl Scouts Convention
  12. Anne Summers on Julia Gillard's misogyny factor
  13. Annie Oakley's libel cases and courtroom speeches
  14. Arianna Huffington's "Thrive" commencement speech
  15. Ashley Judd at the 2017 Women's March
  16. Aung San Suu Kyi's "Freedom from Fear" speech
  17. Barbara Jordan's Democratic Convention keynote
  18. Bella Abzug's American Express credit card ad parody
  19. Benazir Bhutto at the UN Conference on Women
  20. Berta Cáceres's 2015 Goldman Prize Speech
  21. Hawaii Rep. Beth Fukumoto at the Women's March
  22. Bette Midler at the 2017 Tony Awards
  23. Betty Ford's 1975 speech to the American Cancer Society
  24. Betty Friedan's call for a women's strike
  25. Beyoncé's speech on racism and fashion
  26. Billie Jean King at the FIFA Women's Conference
  27. Brené Brown's 2010 TEDx talk on vulnerability
  28. Carly Fiorina's post-9/11 speech
  29. Carol Bartz's commencement speech, "Embrace failure"
  30. Carol Bartz's keynote at the 2010 Grace Hopper Celebration
  31. Carol Burnett's live audience Q&A
  32. Caroline Criado-Perez on talking back to cyber bullies
  33. Caroline Kennedy's eulogy for Edward Kennedy
  34. Carrie Fisher roasts George Lucas
  35. Chai Jing's 'Under the Dome' Documentary
  36. Charlotte Church's lecture on sexism in music
  37. Chelsea Clinton's "Running in Heels" panel moderation
  38. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "We should all be feminists"
  39. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on likability
  40. Christine Lagarde on "dynamic resilience"
  41. Christine Lagarde at the Global Women's Forum
  42. Cindy Wu's pitch at Y Combinator
  43. Clara Barton's Andersonville testimony
  44. Coretta Scott King's "10 Commandments on Vietnam"
  45. Countess Markievicz on 1909's ideal free woman
  46. Danielle George's Royal Institution lecture
  47. Debbi Fields on building your small business
  48. Debi Jackson on her transgender child
  49. Devon Brooks talks about her sexual assault
  50. Princess Diana and the ban on landmines
  51. Diana Nyad at TEDMED on dreams, determination and defeat
  52. Diane Kelly on what we don't know about penis anatomy
  53. Dilma Rousseff's post-impeachment speech
  54. Dolores Huerta at the Delano Grape Strike March
  55. Dominique Christina's "The Period Poem"
  56. Dorothy Fuldheim on the Kent State Shooting
  57. Dorothy Sayers and the lost tools of learning
  58. Edwidge Danticat's testimony on death in detention
  59. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Declaration of Human Rights
  60. Eleanor Roosevelt's 1940 convention-saving speech
  61. Eleanor Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor radio address
  62. Elisabeth Murdoch's lecture to the UK television industry
  63. Elizabeth I's speech to the troops at Tilbury
  64. Elizabeth II's tribute to Princess Diana 
  65. Elizabeth Glazer's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Democratic National Convention
  66. Elizabeth Warren on The Daily Show in 2009
  67. Elizabeth Warren's silencing in the U.S. Senate
  68. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: "If your dreams do not scare you..."
  69. Ellen Terry's lectures on Shakespeare's women
  70. Elyn Saks on her schizophrenia: "Please do send flowers"
  71. Emma Watson's United Nations 'feminist' speech
  72. Emmeline Pankhurst's "Freedom or Death"
  73. Dame Enid Lyon's "Strike a Human Heart" speech
  74. Essie Washington-Williams: "I feel completely free"
  75. Evita Peron's 1951 Renunciamiento
  76. Fannie Lou Hamer's 1964 convention committee testimony
  77. Frances Perkins on the roots of Social Security
  78. Francine Wheeler's radio address on gun control reform
  79. Gabourey Sidibe's 2014 speech at the Gloria Awards
  80. Gabrielle Giffords's resignation from Congress
  81. Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 acceptance speech
  82. Ginni Rometty at Northwestern University commencement
  83. Tech pioneer Grace Hopper explains nanoseconds
  84. Gwen Ifill on politics, policy, and leadership
  85. Rep. Gwen Moore on abortion rights and family planning
  86. Harriet Tubman's fable on colonizing slaves
  87. Heidi Damon faces her attacker in court
  88. Helen Gahagan Douglas and the "Pink Lady" speech
  89. Helen Keller: "Strike Against War" and "I am not dumb now"
  90. Hillary Clinton accepts the presidential nomination
  91. Hillary Clinton answers a tough question
  92. Hillary Clinton's concession speech
  93. Hillary Clinton's 2016 concession speech
  94. Hillary Clinton's 1969 commencement speech
  95. Hillary Clinton's "women's rights are human rights" speech
  96. Hillary Clinton's 2012 statement on the 9/11 killings of Americans in Libya
  97. Holly Peterson on women in sports: 'the best adversity training'
  98. Huda Shaarawi at the 1944 Arab Feminist Conference
  99. Ida Tarbell's 1916 "Industrial Idealism"
  100. Ida B. Wells's 1909 "This Awful Slaughter"
  101. Indira Gandhi's "What Educated Women Can Do"
  102. Indra Nooyi's "middle finger" speech
  103. Jackie Kennedy's 1962 televised tour of the White House
  104. Rep. Jackie Speier on abortion and family planning services
  105. Jane Fonda's TEDxWomen talk on "Life's Third Act"
  106. Jane Goodall's "What Separates Us from the Apes"
  107. California State Senator Janet Nguyen's silencing
  108. Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch on 'thin'
  109. Jeane Kirkpatrick's "Blame America First"
  110. Jeannette Rankin's "I cannot vote for war"
  111. Jennifer Granholm's 2005 tribute to Rosa Parks
  112. TV anchor Jennifer Livingston on her weight
  113. South Carolina Rep. Jenny Horne's Confederate flag speech
  114. Jessica Mendoza calls a major league baseball playoff
  115. Jill Abramson's "to anyone who's been dumped"
  116. Jill Bolte Taylor's "stroke of insight" TED talk
  117. Joyce Banda's tribute to Nelson Mandela
  118. Julia Child's "The French Chef" cooking demos
  119. Julie Andrews's 1964 Golden Globes speech
  120. Juliette Gordon Low's 1924 Girl Scouts speech
  121. Jutta Bojsen-Møller's victory for votes speech
  122. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard at ANZAC Day
  123. Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech on misogyny
  124. Katharine Hayhoe's climate change elevator pitch
  125. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner at the United Nations climate summit
  126. Kavita Krishnan on safety and India's rape culture
  127. Kayla Kearney comes out to her high school assembly
  128. Keila Banks's "Undefinable Me"
  129. Kelly Johnson's Miss America talk on nursing
  130. Kerry Washington on the risk of public speaking
  131. Lady Bird Johnson's 1964 whistlestop tour  (updated here)
  132. Lady Gaga's speech at Rome Europride
  133. Laverne Cox on transgender activism
  134. Leymah Gbowee's "Step out of the shadows"
  135. Lily Myers's "Shrinking Women"
  136. Australian MP Linda Burney's maiden speech
  137. Linda Cliatt-Wayman on fixing broken schools
  138. Lionel Shriver's cultural appropriation speech
  139. Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori's unseen Tony Awards speech
  140. Lucille Ball at her Variety Club tribute
  141. Lupita Nyong'o on black beauty
  142. Lupita Nyong'o on following your fear
  143. Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair on The Donohue Show
  144. Malala Yousafzai's first statement since her shooting
  145. Malala Yousafzai's UN speech on youth education
  146. Manal al-Sharif on the Drive to Freedom
  147. Margaret Edson's 2008 Smith College commencement speech
  148. Margaret Sanger, The Children's Era 
  149. Margaret Sanger's 1929 self-silencing speech
  150. Margaret Chase Smith's 1950 Declaration of Conscience
  151. Margaret Thatcher's "Iron Lady" speech
  152. Maria Klawe on asking for salary increases
  153. Maria Shriver on "The Power of the Pause"
  154. Marie Colvin's eulogy for fallen war correspondents
  155. Marie Curie's 1911 Nobel lecture
  156. Marilyn Mosby on the Freddie Gray homicide
  157. Mary Ann Shadd Cary's 1858 "Break Every Yoke"
  158. Mary Beard on the public voice of women
  159. Mary Beard on women in power
  160. Mary Fisher's speech on AIDS to the 1992 Republican National Convention
  161. Mary Roach on 10 things you didn't know about orgasm
  162. Mary Robinson's inaugural speech as Ireland's president
  163. Rep. Maureen Walsh's speech on gay marriage
  164. Maya Angelou's eulogy for Coretta Scott King
  165. Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman"
  166. Melania Trump's speech at the 2016 Republican convention
  167. Minnesota Rep. Melissa Hortman calls out her white male colleagues
  168. Melissa Rivers's tribute to Joan Rivers
  169. Meryl Streep on Emma Thompson and Walt Disney
  170. Meryl Streep's 2017 Golden Globes speech
  171. Mhairi Black's UK Parliament maiden speech
  172. Michelle Obama's 'a house built by slaves'
  173. Michelle Obama's "Enough is enough" speech
  174. Michelle Obama at Tuskegee University
  175. Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech
  176. Michelle Obama's eulogy for Maya Angelou
  177. Michelle Obama's speech to young African women leaders
  178. 1994 lecture by Miep Gies, Anne Frank's protector
  179. Mindy Kaling at Harvard Law School's Class Day
  180. Monica Lewinsky at TED 2015
  181. Mother Jones Speaks to Striking West Virginia Miners in 1912
  182. Mother Teresa at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast
  183. Myrlie Evers-Williams's 2013 inaugural invocation
  184. Nancy Astor's "maiden speech" in Parliament
  185. Nancy Hanks on the student she expelled
  186. Nellie McClung's "Should Men Vote?" speech
  187. British Olympic cyclist Nicole Cook's retirement speech
  188. Queen Noor's 1996 speech at the Kennedy Center
  189. Nora Ephron's commencement address at Wellesley College
  190. Park Geun-Hye's pre-impeachment speech
  191. Patricia Arquette's 2015 Oscar speech and history lesson
  192. Patti Smith on the artist's journey
  193. Patty Duke's 1970 Emmy Awards speech
  194. Penny Mordaunt's Loyal Address in Parliament
  195. Phyllis Diller on comedy at the 92nd Street Y
  196. Judge Phyllis Randolph Frye's "My Son"
  197. Phyllis Rodriguez & Aicha el-Wafi on 9/11 forgiveness 
  198. Phyllis Schlafly's "What's Wrong with Equal Rights for Women?"
  199. Queen Latifah's "Keep Fighting for It"
  200. Rachel Carson's "A New Chapter to Silent Spring"
  201. Rashema Melson's high school valedictory speech
  202. Rose Schneiderman on the Triangle Fire
  203. Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Opinion in the VMI Case
  204. Ruth Reichl on not becoming her mother
  205. Sally Field at the 2012 Human Rights Campaign dinner
  206. Sally Ride's "Shoot for the Stars"
  207. Sandra Day O'Connor on "Portia's Progress"
  208. Sarah Kay's "Tshotsholoza"
  209. Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention
  210. Sarah Weddington's Roe v. Wade arguments
  211. Sarah Winnemucca's San Francisco lectures
  212. Severn Suzuki's 1992 UN Earth Summit speech
  213. Shabana Rasij-Basikh on educating Afghan girls
  214. Sheena Iyengar's TED talk on the art of choosing
  215. Sheila Widnall on women in engineering
  216. Sheryl Sandberg's Barnard commencement address
  217. Shirley Chisholm introduces the Equal Rights Amendment
  218. Shirley Chisholm's 1972 contested presidential debate time
  219. Shonda Rhimes's "You Are Not Alone"
  220. Sister Simone Campbell and the nuns on a bus tour
  221. Sojourner Truth "Ain't I a Woman?"
  222. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's law school question
  223. Sophie Gustafson on stuttering as "part of who I am"
  224. Stanford rape victim's statement to her rapist
  225. Stav Shaffir and "What is a Zionist?"
  226. Stella Young's "I'm not your inspiration"
  227. Dame Stephanie Shirley at TED 2015
  228. Sue Austin's "most mobile person" at TEDMED
  229. Susan B. Anthony's "Is it a crime for a U.S. citizen to vote?"
  230. Tanni Grey-Thompson's "shout a bit louder" on disability
  231. Minister Teresa MacBain's "I am an Atheist"
  232. Rep. Terri Sewell's remarks at Selma
  233. Tess Vigeland on quitting a job with no plan B
  234. Empress Theodora's throne-saving speech
  235. Theresa May takes the UK Police Federation to task
  236. Theresa May's first Prime Minister's Questions
  237. Tilda Swinton's "David Bowie Is" speech
  238. Toni Morrison's 2011 commencement address
  239. Toni Morrison's Nobel lecture on language
  240. Ursula K. Leguin's "Left-handed commencement address"
  241. Ursula K. Leguin's "We are volcanoes"
  242. Vandana Shiva at 2014's Food Otherwise
  243. Victoria Woodhull's "Principles of Social Freedom"
  244. Viola Davis: "What keeps me in the business is hope"
  245. Viola Davis's commencement speech "Go on and live!"
  246. Viola Davis: "Everything should be spoken"
  247. Viola Davis at the 2015 Emmy Awards
  248. Viola Davis's introduction of Meryl Streep at the 2017 Golden Globe awards
  249. Viola Davis accepts an historic 2017 Oscar
  250. Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" lectures
  251. Virginia Woolf's 1931 "Professions for Women"
  252. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai's hummingbird fable
  253. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis's filibuster
  254. Wilma Mankiller on rebuilding the Cherokee Nation
  255. 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!