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Speeches throughout history that inspired action (part 4)

Want to motivate yourself as a public speaker? Read motivational speeches that inspired action.

This is part four of a five-part series showcasing speeches throughout history that changed the world.  

SPEECH: Women’s Strike for Equality

SPEECH DATE: March 20, 1970

SPEAKER: Betty Friedan

BIG IDEA: On the 50th anniversary of the day when women got the right to vote, women in America must go on strike at work and at home to call attention to gender inequality. (The strike Friedan had called for happened on Aug. 26, 1970, with 50,000 women marching in New York City and companion events in 43 states across the U.S.)

HOW IT INSPIRED ACTION THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Friedan’s strike call in March and its fulfillment five months later united women nationwide, forced both women and men to reexamine the role of women in society, and inspired women in America to keep fighting for gender equality.


“I propose that the women who are doing menial chores in the offices as secretaries put the covers on their typewriters and close their notebooks and the telephone operators unplug their switchboards, the waitresses stop waiting, cleaning women stop cleaning and everyone who is doing a job for which a man would be paid more, stop!

“And when it begins to get dark, instead of cooking dinner or making love, we will assemble and we will carry candles alight in every city to converge the visible power of women at city hall. Women will occupy for the night the political decision-making arena and sacrifice a night of love to make the political meaning clear.

“Legislators on vacation will be tracked down in the mountains and on the beaches and we will talk to that Senator through the night and follow him through the day until we have his commitment on the equal rights of women. …

“I have led you into history. I leave you now to make new history.”