There’s nothing like a good speech to inspire you to be your best self. And some of the best speeches in the 21st century were delivered by iconic African women, who have done the work to back up the talk. We want you to discover their genius and be inspired by their wisdom so we have compiled 4 of our favourite speeches from iconic African women which have inspired change and galvanised a generation of women to take charge of their own lives.
An Open Letter by: Graça Machel, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dr. Vera Songwe, Maria Ramos
Graça Machel is a Mozambican politician and humanitarian, who has served as the Minister of Education and Culture in Mozambique and as the First Lady of both Mozambique and South Africa.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian-American economist who currently serves as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Dr. Vera Songwe is a Cameroonian economist and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Maria Ramos is a South African economist and businesswoman who has served as the CEO of several major companies in South Africa.
These amazing thought leaders in their respective industries came together to pen down an open letter. In the open letter, the four women called for urgent action to address the economic impact of COVID-19 on African countries.
They emphasized the need for international solidarity and cooperation to support African economies and ensure that these developing nations are not neglected in global recovery efforts. The letter highlighted the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and called for gender-responsive policies to address their specific needs and support their recovery.
The open letter was published in several media outlets in May 2020, including The Guardian, and was addressed to leaders of the G20 countries and the international community. It called for debt relief, investment in health systems, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises to help mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic on African countries.
In summary, the open letter by Graça Machel, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dr. Vera Songwe, and Maria Ramos called for urgent action to address the economic impact of COVID-19 on African countries and highlighted the need for international solidarity and cooperation to support African economies.
Read their inspiring words HERE
“The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Delivered at the July 2019, TEDGlobal 2009 held in Oxford, UK.
The TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” the acclaimed speech that has become a catch phrase for encouraging diversity of thought, was given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a widely read & international acclaimed Nigerian novelist and speaker.
In the speech, she discusses the dangers of stereotyping and the importance of diverse storytelling. She highlights the impact of storytelling on how we perceive ourselves and others and calls for a broader representation of narratives.
She reiterates, and explores the impact of stereotypes and how they can create a limited and inaccurate understanding of people and their experiences. She also highlights the importance of storytelling in shaping our perceptions of the world, and implores us to embrace empathy and curiousity in our dealings with others.
Read Chimamanda’s inspiring words here HERE
“We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: 2012 TEDx talk at TEDx Euston in London
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech, “We Should All Be Feminists,” with over 8million views on Youtube is another powerful and widely recognized speech. It was delivered at a TEDx conference in 2012.
In the speech, Adichie shares personal experiences of gender inequality, and argues that feminism is not just about women, but about achieving gender equality for all. She challenges the idea that being feminist is a negative or unattractive trait, and encourages people to embrace the label and work towards creating a more equal society. She discusses the ways in which gender inequality affects everyone, not just women, and calls for a collective effort to address these issues.
Her speech was later expanded into a book of the same name and is a call to action for everyone to embrace feminism and work towards gender equality.
Watch the speech HERE
Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth: Delivered at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio
Taking this way back all the way to the 1800s, is a speech by Sojourner Truth, an African American woman who was born into slavery in New York. Her famous speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” was delivered at a women’s rights convention in 1851, in which she highlighted the issues faced by black women in America.
The speech challenged the common notion that women were weak and inferior to men, and argued that black women deserved the same rights and opportunities as white women.
Read this pioneering black feminist’s rousing words HERE