Margaret Atwood once wrote, “A word after a word after a word is power,”. That encapsulates the philosophy of She Speaks, a collection of forty women’s speeches that changed the course of history.
UK Labour MP Yvette Cooper curated this edition (kindly sent to me by Atlantic Books and Allen and Unwin), which has been updated with an additional introduction and speeches that reflect the new realities of 2020.
“Looking at lists of the greatest speeches of all time,” she writes in the blurb, “you might think that powerful oratory is the preserve of men. But the truth is very different – countless brave and bold women have used their voices to inspire change, transform lives, and radically alter history.”
The speeches are arranged in chronological order, and each is introduced with a brief biography of the speaker and the context in which the speech was given and recorded. I was really pleasantly surprised by the bipartisan and diverse selection. Personal favourites include speeches by Sojourner Truth, Marie Colvin, Julia Gillard, Kavita Krishnan, Michelle Obama, and Jacinda Ardern.
She Speaks is a quick but powerful read, and hopefully a sign of more such collections to come.
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