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Powerful Words by Powerful Women

Words have power. Especially when they come from intelligent figures standing on notable platforms.

Throughout history, the power of speech has inspired movements and launched revolutions. From UN Ambassador and actress, Emma Watson, to influential author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, here are a few notable speeches on empowerment and equality spoken by remarkable women speakers of this century.

Emma Watson’s UN Speech
Delivered in 2014 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson blew attendees and the world away with her speech, which addressed gender inequality, campus rape culture, and gender disparities in university systems.

Inspired by her experience studying at Brown University (2009-2014), Watson cites several areas of inequality within higher level education programs, such as gender gaps in the faculty and administration to academic disciplines. Watson also discusses issues revolving around sexual assault and violence; issues often dismissed or mishandled within the university system. The speech preceded Watson’s introduction of her HeForShe campaign, which she launched the same year.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
An award–winning author and activist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s works, including the 2013 top ten New York Times bestseller, Americanah, focuses on a wide array of topics, from racial and cultural diversity to immigration and gender. In addition to being a prolific author, Adichie is also a skilled orator, spreading messages of inclusiveness and empowerment through both the written and spoken word. Adichie’s TEDx talk, We Should All Be Feminists, alone garnered over three million views on YouTube since it was uploaded in 2012.

Sheryl Sandberg
Lean In author and Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg continues to vocalize her support of women in business and high­–profile industries. Her TED talks on leadership and commencement speeches, such as those delivered at UC Berkeley and Harvard University, are testaments to Sandberg’s strong orations on women and success. Perhaps one of her most notable speeches was her commencement speech delivered at Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in China.

During the speech, Sandberg cites the overwhelming gender disparity in STEM fields across the world while also stating that closing this gap and aiming for gender equality hits the target on economic growth as well.

“I want to make this very clear,” Sandberg states. “Equality is not just good for women. It’s good for everyone. Female participation in the workforce is a major driver of economic growth.”

We’d love to hear your comments about which speech you thought was the best, so leave a comment below!

Featured Image by Financial Times on Flickr

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