Celebrated for over a century now, Women’s Day has served as an active acknowledgment of the magnificent and fierce force of nature that women are. Observing it is one way of honoring all that they do and are.
What that means is that people have started counting it as an event that can be used for raising charity for women-centric NGOs and other funds. That goes on to say that it attracts tonnes of people and involves a lot of public gatherings.
Whether it is a local community celebration, a small social gathering, or large press conferences and fundraisers, all these events have people who are eager to talk about a bunch of things revolving around women.
While the spectrum for the topics you could talk about is very wide, this article will help you curate a speech that stands out and makes it a memorable one for the audience.
What is the history of Women’s Day?
While it is not something you must necessarily include in your speech, it’s good to know the relevance and context of the occasion.
Marked every year on March 8th, the first ever Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911 and supported by over a million people.
It came about as a long due response to the repressive tendencies of the society. An agitated reaction to the disparity in working conditions between men and women. Today, it calls for celebrating women in social, economic, political, and domestic spheres of life in personal and professional capacities.
If you wish to know more about the history of Women’s Day in detail, here’s some timeline-based information you can find on the web: History of International Women’s Day
What can you talk about on Women’s Day?
Needless to say, the central topic you would need to focus on is women. However, the scope of things you could talk about related to women is far more extensive than you’d think.
Historically, the gender dynamics in society have been known to be inherently skewed in one direction. The hegemonic patriarchal structure has alienated women to a subordinate position in personal and professional spaces.
Women till date, are treated like the ‘other’ or deviated from the norm that is male-centric. The injustices inflicted on women are agitating to even think about.
So, you could choose to talk about the aforementioned injustices (because, believe me, there are many), or you could talk about the progress we have made so far in eradicating them. These are, however, the most common topics that are saturated on every Women’s Day.
You need your speech to stand out, and for that, you need to write something that adds new value instead of reiterating the same old ones.
That is not to say that we should stop talking about all that is wrong with gender dynamics, however, a good speech would bring to light the already existing conflicts in a new way. Here’s where you can get creative with your words. Read further to understand.
Having said that, International Women’s Day is not just about looking at the past. Apart from these things, you could also talk about the accomplishments women have made in praise of them.
One REALLY relevant, unconventional, and new area you could focus on is body positivity and talking about gender identity. You could back up with statistics the number of women who struggle with body positivity, the numbers are alarming!
Besides, the LGBTQ+ community also has women or people who identify as women, this is a perfect opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate them.
There are so many strong women who defy the norm and rise through ranks. Women’s Day is also an occasion to celebrate women, more than anything.
Things to keep in mind while writing a Women’s Day speech
So, to give you a few practical examples, here’s a list of potential topics you could talk about:
1. Feminism in *name of your country*
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”― Cheris Kramarae
Feminism is a hot topic in the 21st century. It is almost always spoken about on Women’s Day. It’s one of the most influential movements that our society has come up with.
However, like any other radical movement, it has as many critics as supporters. The cultural interrogation of feminism differs from country to country, since it’s perceived differently.
You could do extensive research about what it is like to be a feminist in your own country. Your speech could comprise YOUR personal, subjective experience, your struggles, your achievements, etc.
Reference: For example, check out Malala Yousafzai’s speech on how Feminism is not complicated
2. Educate a woman, educate a generation
Women and education is another very sensitive area on a global level. There are still countries that restrict women’s access to education to this date, even after the third wave of Feminism.
This is why it is important to bring it up consistently every time, to start conversations, to bring this grave issue to the forefront.
In this speech, you could give some really upsetting statistics about the percentage of women deprived of one of the most fundamental rights, and move on to paint a picture of a society where women are less educated, and predict the consequences it would have.
Reference: Here’s Angelina Jolie addressing the 25th AU Summit 2015, another great example you could check out!
3. Empower & unite: a vision
This is a rather umbrella topic. Women are empowered by change. Any real difference requires a real change.
A speech here can be made about what groundwork must one do in practical day-to-day life to bring about the desired change.
A vision has to be formed of the society that women feel accepted and welcomed in, and then steps to move towards it can be enlightened.
For example, education policies can be enacted, NGOs can be formed, you can also mention the progress already made in these areas.
Writing the Speech: Main Guide
Well then, with some prompts and examples to lay the groundwork, let’s move on to the actual process of writing the speech on Women’s Day.
There are a few things that you need to keep in mind, the following includes some tips along with a step-by-step procedure.
- Target a core message you want to convey and build your speech around it, or better yet, design your speech in such a way that leads UP TO this core message.
- Organize your speech. (read further in the steps)
- While writing the speech, think of yourself as an audience member, shifting perspective from speaker to listener helps you eliminate boring things sometimes.
- Build a rough skeleton of your speech, what point would segue into what. Arrange the order of the subtopics.
- Decide the duration of your speech in advance, it helps you narrow down to key points and cut down unnecessary jargon. It also helps if you set a timer during your practice.
- Reiteration is fine, but don’t repeat your points too many times. It gets boring for people sometimes.
- If talking about radical notions like feminism, try not to go too hardcore since these topics attract extreme opinions and reactions. You don’t want things to get too heated.
- Make sure you don’t just talk about the mainstream “issues” of women. It could make your speech generic and repetitive, and hence, less impactful. Try to cover a bunch of areas, some a little optimistic perhaps.
Well, with those in mind, let’s move on to a step-by-step guide!
You must’ve heard a thousand times that structure is the most essential tool when writing or giving a speech, and that’s because it is. Any great speech has a very apparent beginning, middle, and end.
With that being said, let’s get to this specific topic. While talking on Women’s Day, it is a good idea to begin by appreciating and acknowledging women of all kinds, and all that they do, how our lives are so much better with them in it.
After this, the direction you take your speech in differs according to your core message. For example, if you want to talk about gender neutrality, you can move on to the disparities that sadly still exist in our society.
You can also talk about the urgency to change the general mindset about the “othering” of women. You can mention how if you’re not actively trying to bring about change, you’re passively contributing to an unfortunate reality.
Try using strong words like “unfortunate”, “contribution”, “challenge” that evoke the audience.
And finally, and most importantly, always end on a positive note. Not just anything though, mention the progress that’s been made by people towards bringing about the change.
For example, you could mention the Let Girls Learn initiative by Michelle Obama aimed at providing education to adolescent girls.
Another very important thing you need to keep in mind is that while the guide might help you with constructing a speech, the words are going to be yours.
And to make sure that your words hook the audiences’ attention, you need to have some really impressive opening lines, because that is when their attention span is at its peak!
To help with just that, we have written a whole article about speech openers, you can check them out here: 15 Powerful Speech Opening Lines (And How to Create Your Own)
Additionally, you need to make sure that the end of your speech packs and ties the whole essence together. Here are 15 Powerful Speech Ending Lines (And Tips to Create Your Own)
#PURPOSE & #TONE
The purpose of a speech could be delivering the core message we spoke about, or it could be getting your audience to act on something. It’s the REASON for giving that particular speech.
As yourself, do you want to alert your audience? or do you want to challenge them? Do you want to educate them? Or just provide insights? Answering these questions for yourself will help you find the purpose.
The tone of your speech goes hand in hand with the purpose. For example, if your purpose is to ignite a passion towards women’s empowerment, then your tone would be definitive, assertive, and strong. It would involve saying phrases like “We MUST”, “We HAVE to”, etc.
Meanwhile, if it’s to just deliver facts in a non-aggressive way, then your tone would be soft-spoken with pauses for people to ponder. It is very important to align your tone with the purpose.
As mentioned in the tips, you must decide upon the duration of time you want to speak. As it is, our attention spans are progressively shrinking. Hence, it is important to convey what you wish to within the shortest time frame possible.
Compress your data. Include facts, but only sprinkle them throughout like pepper. Don’t go overloaded with statistics. People withdraw the fastest when they hear numbers too much.
Your speech should be moving, and while numbers help, let your own words do the magic instead of relying too much on numbers.
Ideally, a good speech about an occasion like Women’s Day goes on till about 3-5 minutes. Unless you want to dive into a specific topic and dig deep. Again, it depends on the audience you’re catering to.
A group of social activists wouldn’t mind an hour-long speech, even. But kids, or maybe community meetings tend to lose focus faster if they’re not motivated about the subject as strongly.
Creativity is a massive spectrum. There are hundreds of aids you could use to enhance your speech, even make it a performance if you may.
But a few examples that I can think of are using visual aids, making a PPT with colorful graphs and flowcharts to depict statistics instead of saying them.
Some people have a strong visual memory, so you’d be making a stronger impact on them by showing them instead of telling them. Not to mention color attracts and even retains attention.
Other than that, you could show a short film, or even an ad campaign in the beginning to set the base strong, or create the mood.
For example, here’s a Reebok campaign ad that their brand did in 2018 for a women empowerment initiative. You could show it to your audience in the beginning to build a context. Additionally, some ads leave a long-lasting impact.
With these tools, you’re all set to begin curating your speech. Remember to make it personal, adding anecdotes from your life or people you know it’s what makes your speech real, and hence, stand out.
Before I begin my speech, I want us all to do a little imaginative exercise today. Ready? I want you all to close your eyes. Take a deep breath, and picture what I’m saying.
Imagine being in a really long, dark hallway. You can see a door in some distance but you have to squint your eyes. There is light outside the door. Normally, you’d want to reach out to that door and walk out happily into the light. Now imagine your hands being tied, restricting your movement. And the pathway leading to the door is peppered with shattered glass. And the ceiling is also made of glass where you can look at your reflection and see someone tired of trying. Meanwhile, a whole group of people pass by you, look at you, judge you, objectify you, and swiftly move towards the door because their pathway is smooth.
Open your eyes. Ladies and gentlemen, what you just imagined is what we call being a woman. Welcome to our world.
Women. The pillars of our society, the nurturers of our progeny, the threads weaving our communities together. Women. To say that they are the physical manifestation of strength itself would be a gross understatement. Today, women around us are excelling in all spheres that mankind has designed, making this world a better place to live in, little by little. Be it a homemaker, a professionally devoted one, or any other kind, our mothers, sisters, teachers, aunts, daughters, and friends are rays of inspiration to us.
I look around today and see these absolutely wonderful women who are extremely loved. But that’s not all I see. I also see victims. Victims of heinous crimes like rapes, abuse, torture. But the victimization isn’t limited to just punishable offenses, there are women I see who fall prey to silent killers of joy. Victims of emotional abuse, women stuck in long miserable marriages too afraid to break out of it for the sake of putting up with ridiculous notions of society that undermine them. Other than that, can you believe it is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls? Women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people. The list of appalling facts and figures goes on… Gaps between men and women exist in areas from pay ranges to decision making to accessibility in health services and education. The UN has made a LIST on their websites that is full of these shocking gaps. It is sad how long you have to scroll to reach the end.
We are living in the 21st century. There is not a single shred of doubt in the fact that a woman can become and conquer anything that she desires. History tells us, however, that this has been a result of an unbearably long journey of revolts and movements against a society that was designed to put women down, to undermine them. Where the only criteria to determine their worth was how pretty they are or how well they cook and clean. Patriarchy is so deeply rooted in the fabric of so many countries that there are still people who continue to follow those notions about women. And for them, I have one word: Ignorant. Yes, they are ignorant to the grave consequences of perpetuating gender parity, ignorant to the fact that women are just as human as men, ignorant to all the possibilities a woman if given, can emerge gloriously from. Let me reiterate to you people today, WOMEN BELONG TO THE WORLD, NOT INSIDE KITCHENS. The rise of women does NOT equate to the fall of men. And anyone who thinks so has my deepest sympathies for the blind ignorance.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Sudha Murty, one of the well-renowned authors of India and a philanthropist. But she is still sometimes referred to as “the wife” of the founder of the Infosys Foundation, even though she herself is the chairperson of the same company. Something to know about this extraordinary woman is that she is now 70 years old, which means she graduated high school in a time when it was norm to treat women as secondary beings. In an age like that, she dared to dream to become an engineer. Her family wasn’t supportive of it, because then nobody would marry her, of course. But she went ahead and pursued it anyway. It is to be noted that she was the only woman among 599 engineering students. She then went on to smash the stereotypes and bag a job in TELCO, one of India’s biggest automobile firms, which again, she got because she stood up for herself and the discrimination against women. By the way, the educational authorities during her time were so indifferent that they didn’t even build ladies bathrooms in the institution. This led to Sudha to bring a real change and build over 16,000 toilets after Infosys happened. Today, she is looked upto for the courage she had to raise her voice and be the first woman for so many things, it is revolutionary to witness it.
The cloud isn’t entirely dark.Today, industries and organizations are taking active steps towards eradicating the orthodox mentality. There are women crushing and dominating the glass ceiling in all professional fields. Global organizations such as the UN are working towards women empowerment on a large scale, Feminism is in its third wave on an international scale. We are certainly moving towards a future where it’s not about men and women, it’s about being HUMANS, and that, considering everything, is a win.
To conclude with the remarkable words of Megan Markle, a wonderful representation of strong globally impactful women and the UN women’s advocate for political participation and leadership, “It isn’t enough to simply talk about equality, one must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to simply believe in it, one must work at it. let us work at it. Together, starting now”
Happy Women’s Day!
Every year, you may find people adopting a theme for advertisement campaigns or public speeches in order to focus on a particular area that women need to be celebrated in. It can serve as the necessary prompt for you to curate your speech.
Other than that, we hope this guide helped you coming up with a great speech on International Women’s day!