Amazing Speeches By Women That Will Get You Motivated


“When you are excellent … you become an unforgettable woman.”

March is Women’s History Month, and there are many areas in life to celebrate outstanding contributions from amazing women.

One example is speeches – some of the most inspiring talks in history have been spoken by female orators like Sojourner Truth, Oprah Winfrey and Susan B. Anthony. These 23 speeches delivered by women will inspire you to use your voice and stand in your power.


Oprah Winfrey’s Spelman College commencement speech.

Spelman College / Via

Oprah encouraged the Spelman College class of 2012 to know who they are and what they want in life, use their gifts to serve the world, and always do the right thing. She also discussed how doing your best, regardless of what stage you’re at in life, sets you up for success.

“Be excellent. People notice,” Oprah said. “Even at Taco Bell, excellence shows itself  … What I know is that when you are excellent, you become unforgettable. People remember you. You stand out. Regardless of what it is, you become an unforgettable woman.”


Madonna’s Billboard Woman of the Year speech.

Billboard, Lifetime Television / Via

When Madonna accepted Billboard’s Woman of the Year award in 2016, she used her time on stage to address double standards faced by women and encouraged women to surround themselves with empowered allies.

“Women have been so oppressed for so long, they believe what men have to say about them, and they believe they have to back a man to get the job done,” Madonna said. “And there are some very good men worth backing, but not because they’re men, because they’re worthy. As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth and each other’s worth. Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to be inspired by, to collaborate with, to support, to be enlightened by.”


Michelle Obama’s The City College of New York commencement speech.

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Michelle spoke at The City College of New York for her final commencement address as first lady of the United States in 2016. She urged the graduating class to embrace difficulties they may face in life and see them as opportunities for growth.

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage,” Michelle said. “Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”


Priyanka Chopra’s Variety Power of Women speech.

Variety / Via

When Priyanka spoke at Variety’s Power of Women event in 2017, she said numerous personal experiences led her to creating The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education and partnering with UNICEF. 

One especially impactful moment for her was when she learned that her housekeeper’s daughter had stopped going to school because it was too expensive for all of her siblings to attend. Instead, her brothers were chosen to become educated for fear that it would “be a waste of money” if the girl would later choose to get married.

“I was completely blown [away] and it shook me to my core,” Priyanka said of this experience. “Eventually, I decided to cover the cost of her education so she could continue to learn because education is a basic human right and a huge necessity, especially today. From that point on, I was determined to make a difference in as many children’s lives as I could in whatever big or small way that I could contribute.”


Gloria Steinem’s ’70s Women’s Liberation Rally speech.

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“I would not have admitted my own inequality, even though I had been refused apartments by landlords who would not rent to women and refused access to supposedly public places,” Gloria said to the crowd at the rally.

“Now, thanks to the spirit of equality in the air, and to the work of many of my more foresighted sisters, I no longer accept society’s judgment that my group is second class,” she added.


Rihanna’s Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year speech.

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Harvard University named Rihanna as their Humanitarian of the Year in 2017 for her philanthropic endeavors, including her work in founding the Clara Lionel Foundation. The singer, actor and businessperson visited the campus and spoke to Harvard students and faculty about humanitarianism.

“I know that each and every one of you has the opportunity to help someone else,” Rihanna said. “All you need to do is help one person, expecting nothing in return. To me, that is a humanitarian.”


Luvvie Ajayi Jones’ TED Talk on getting out of your comfort zone.

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During her TED Talk, Luvvie encouraged listeners to become comfortable being uncomfortable. She said it took her years before she was able to call herself a writer, and, since that proclamation, she decided to force herself into more situations outside of her comfort zone.

“I realized, fear has a very concrete power of keeping us from doing and saying the things that are our purpose,” Luvvie said. “And I was like, you know what, I’m not gonna let fear rule my life. I’m not gonna let fear dictate what I do. And then, all these awesome things started happening, and dominoes started to fall.”


Jessica Chastain’s Screen Actors Guild Award acceptance speech.

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In February 2022, Jessica won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Tammy Faye Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. She took a moment to acknowledge aspiring actors during her acceptance speech.

“I’ve wanted to be an actor my whole life, and ever since I was a kid it was the only thing I really ever though about,” Jessica said. “There were years of studying and auditioning and not getting jobs … I know what feels like and I know the loneliness of what that feels like. And so, for those of you who are struggling and feeling unseen, I just want you to know to keep going, ’cause you’re one job away, I promise.”


Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign speech.

United Nations,UN Photo/Mark Garten / Via

Emma became a United Nations ambassador in 2014 and co-hosted an event for UN Women’s HeForShe Campaign the same year. She gave a speech at the ceremony, during which she clarified the meaning of feminism and urged men to become involved in the fight for gender equality.

“The more I’ve spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s right has too often become synonymous with man-hating,” Emma said. “If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”


Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Prize Concert speech.

Nobel Peace Prize Concert / Via

When she talked at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2015, Malala used her platform to advocate for educating all children. She also stated that ensuring every child receives a quality education is a “collective campaign,” wherein everyone must work together and do what they can to support the cause.

“I simply ask that the right to learning should be given to any child. I ask for nothing else,” Malala said. “But unfortunately, there are 57 million children who are out of school.”

“I request all of you to think today, that, how you can help? How can you help these children to go to school?” she added.


Debbie Sterling’s TED Talk on females in engineering.

TED / Via

Debbie discussed the lack of female engineers for her 2013 TEDxPSU speech. After earning her degree in engineering, Debbie learned that she had been at a disadvantage with underdeveloped spatial skills, and people who are more adept at these skills often grew up playing with construction toys. So, she decided to quit her job and create toys to help young girls develop engineering abilities, which led to GoldieBlox, her toy and entertainment company.

After being told that engineering toys geared at young girls don’t sell, Debbie initiated a Kickstarter campaign to fund her idea, which led to her raising $150,000 in four days.

“The world was waiting for this; they wanted this,” Debbie said. “The toy industry had it wrong. Yeah, sure, some girls like princesses and tiaras, and I like that stuff too, but there’s so much more to us than that. There’s so much potential.”


Sojourner Truth’s Women’s Rights Convention speech.

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In 1851, Sojourner, a women’s rights activist and abolitionist, gave a speech at the convention, and in 1863 its transcription was re-released. Although this later version is often remembered by history, the original transcription of her talk is much truer to Sojourner’s words on gender equality. 

“I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man,” the original transcription reads on The Sojourner Truth Project website. “I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal; I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if  I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now.”


Maya Angelou’s inaugural poem speech.

William J. Clinton Presidential Library / Via

At former president Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration, Maya recited her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning.” Through this speech, she made history as the first Black woman to write and read a poem at an inauguration ceremony for a U.S. president.

“Lift up your eyes upon this day breaking for you. Give birth again to the dream. Women, children, men, take it into the palms of your hands, mold it into the shape of your most private need. Sculpt it into the image of your most public self. Lift up your hearts. Each new hour holds new chances for a new beginning,” she said at the ceremony.


Lisa Nichols’ motivational speech.

Goalcast / Via

“Other people’s perception of you ain’t none of your business,” Lisa said in her 2018 speech. “Everything you’ve ever been through, set through, rose through, cried through, prayed through, everything is a setup for your next best season.”

The author and speaker also expressed the importance of not changing yourself or limiting your potential to fit other people’s points of view.

“You’re gonna find people that can’t handle your light,” she said. “After today, turn the lights up. After today, you don’t dare dim your light.”


Deshauna Barber’s speech on persistence.

University of Maryland Global Campus / Via

While she was in college and working part-time at Target, a stranger approached Deshauna and encouraged her to try and become the next Miss USA, she said in her 2017 commencement speech at her alma mater, the University of Maryland University College. Deshauna lost at the state pageant level for six straight years, but, with determination, went on to become Miss USA in 2016

“I ask only one thing of you all today after you leave this building: Do not fear failure, but please be terrified of regret, as giving up is the birth of regret,” Deshauna said. “After you walk out this door, you will receive 100 doors shut, slammed in your face. You will have 100 moments that will be filled with someone telling you no … What I ask of you today is to not take no for an answer.”


Jennifer Aniston’s Variety Power of Women speech.

Variety / Via

At Variety’s 2019 Power of Women event, Jennifer spoke about her partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which started when actor Marlo Thomas introduced her to their work. She’s now been a partner of the hospital for over 25 years, and she emphasized the importance of making children feel valued during the speech.

“That is what every child deserves to know: that they are seen, that they are powerful and they are loved, and that they deserve a seat at the table,” Jennifer said. “And that anything they have to say, or any question they have to ask is of value, even if we don’t have all the answers for it.”


Dolores Huerta’s National Farm Workers Association rally speech.

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An archival transcription from KQED news documented Dolores’ impassioned 1966 speech at a NFWA march and rally, which focused on gaining rights for agricultural workers. 

“The social and economic revolution of the farm workers is well underway and it will not be stopped until we receive equality,” Dolores said. “The farm workers are moving. Nothing is going to stop them … We may act in strange and unusual ways in our organizing, but we’re willing to try new and unused methods to achieve justice for the farm workers.”


Greta Thunberg’s Climate Action Summit speech.

United Nations / Via

Greta’s speech at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit confronted the world leaders’ lack of urgency in addressing the need for climate action. 

“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing,” Greta said. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?! … How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight?”


Larissa Martinez’s valedictorian speech.

McKinney Independent School District / ABC News / Via

During her 2016 valedictorian speech at her high school graduation in Texas, Larissa opened up about being an undocumented immigrant. 

“I decided to stand before you today and reveal this unexpected reality because this might be the only chance to convey to you all that undocumented immigrants are people too,” she said. “Immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, are … people with dreams, aspirations, hopes, and loved ones.”


Susan B. Anthony’s women’s right to vote speech.

Ilbusca / Getty Images/iStockphoto

In 1873, Susan delivered her speech addressing women’s right to vote at different locations throughout the state of New York.

“It was we, the people, not we, the white male citizens, nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed this Union,” Susan said. “And we formed it, not to give the blessings or liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people – women as well as men. And it is downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government – the ballot.”


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s feminism speech.

TEDx / Via

Chimamanda, the author of We Should All Be Feministsgave a speech at TEDxEuston in 2011. She explained the damaging impact of gender norms, then encouraged everyone to embrace feminism in order to accomplish positive changes.

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller,” Chimamanda said. “We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, you have to pretend that you’re not. Especially in public. Otherwise, you will emasculate him. But what if we questioned the premise itself: Why should a woman’s success be a threat to a man?”


Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem speech.

Pool / Getty Images

Amanda, who is the first U.S. youth poet laureate, recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Biden’s 2021 inauguration ceremony. In doing so, she became the youngest poet in history to write a poem for a presidential inauguration.

“If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare,” Amanda said. “It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.”


Hillary Clinton’s women’s rights are human rights speech.

Courtesy; William J. Clinton Presidential Library / Via

In 1995, Hillary spoke for the United Nations Fourth Women’s Conference in Beijing, China. Her speech presented women’s rights as human rights, using a phrase that has origins in the Global South.

“It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights,” she said before adding, “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

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