International Women's Day 2015 - 5 Great Speeches

March 06, 2015

With International Women’s Day 2015 on Sunday, we thought it’d be pertinent to take another look at a few of the great speeches delivered to rapt audiences in recent years. These women stood in front of the world and demanded change in some form or another, which resonated powerfully with those watching on.

Here, we revisit five of those speeches, though it has to be said that the list could have gone on and on.

Patricia Arquette - Equal Wage Demands, Oscars 2015

The most recent speech on the list, Patricia Arquette’s impassioned demand for wage equality received a huge roar in the auditorium and a flood of supportive messages on Twitter just seconds after being delivered. Upon receiving her Oscar, she deftly moves from the usual list of thank-yous onto a topic that has Meryl Streep clapping loudly and J Lo whooping in agreement.


Angelina Jolie – World Refugee Day, 2009

Better known as an action hero, Angelina Jolie surprised many with her composed and demure speech about how refugees have impacted her own life during a talk at Washington D.C. on World Refugee Day 2009. We could have chosen one of many Angelina Jolie speeches but it’s this one calling for a greater understanding of the plight of refugees that best encapsulates her poised, intelligent approach to speaking on serious subjects.

Emma Watson – UN, 2014

Emma Watson’s moving speech about gender equality at the UN drew huge media coverage, with her photo appearing on many newspaper front pages the very next day. Her HeForShe campaign called for an end for men and boys to end the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally and received a deserved standing ovation.


Wendy Davis – Anti-Abortion Filibuster, Texas Senate, 2013

Perhaps not widely known in the UK, Senator Wendy Davis spoke for 11 hours to stop an anti-abortion bill in Texas that would have closed nearly all of the abortion clinics within the state. Lawmakers had to vote on the bill before the end of the day but only after the last arguments had been heard. To ensure that no vote occurred, David kept speaking...and speaking...and speaking... with millions watching and voicing their support online, before she was controversially halted. The vote was eventually pushed to begin just 15 minutes before the deadline but the angry crowds who had turned out in support of Davis kept shouting as loudly and for as long as they could. Luckily for her and many women in Texas, the timestamp on the vote read 12.03am and the controversial bill was dead. This video mashup of the scenes is breathtaking to watch and testament to an amazing lady and her passionate supporters.


Malala Yousafzai – UN Speech, 2014

There are some brilliant speeches at the UN and Malala Yousafzai’s address on her 16th birthday is one such example. Talbian gunmen shot her in the head just nine months previously due to her campaign for girl’s rights and this speech was testament to her bravery and courage in requesting what should be a basic right. To a packed house, she spoke about her campaign to ensure free compulsory education for every child and was one of many speeches she gave en route to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

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By Henry Fosdike