9 Best TED Talks To Watch During Women's History Month

Sheryl Lee Ralph stands on stage at TED2023

In 1987, Congress designated the entire month of March Women’s History Month — but we all know that women’s history did not start nor end in that year. 

Women have been doing things worth celebrating and speaking words of wisdom worth sharing since the beginning of time. And while women still face layers of oppression — especially women of color and LGBTQ+ women — Women’s History Month provides an amazing opportunity to elevate their voices. 

One way to do this — besides reading some of your favorite empowering quotes by women — is to watch TED Talks by some outstanding women leaders. 

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite and most recent TED Talks by and for women to give you a dose of empowerment, wisdom, and community to celebrate the month ahead.

The most empowering TED Talks to watch for Women’s History Month

Christine Schuler Deschryver: The 5 tenants of turning pain into power

Christine Schuler Deschryver stands on the TED stage
Christine Schuler Deschryver speaks at TEDWomen 2023. Photo courtesy of Gilberto Tadday / TED

Following the murder of her best friend in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998, Christine Schuler Deschryver chose to devote her life to ending violence and empowering Congolese women.

As the co-founder and director of City of Joy, a recovery program for survivors of sexual violence in the DRC, she took to the TED stage to share the key components of healing and resilience.

Her Talk was built on the ideas of rebirth, grassroots organizing, community, and the healing powers of nature, music, and dance. On top of these principles, she rejoices in the work her community has done to uplift 2,000 women into healing and leadership.

“At City of Joy, women come to understand that their healing is intertwined with their sister’s healing,” Deschryber said. “The collective healing of women leads to radical political awakening.”

Watch Christine Schuler Deschryver’s TED Talk

Diana Greene Foster: What happens when we deny people abortions? 

Diana Greene Foster stands on the TED stage
Diana Greene Foster speaks at TEDWomen 2023. Photo courtesy of Gilberto Tadday / TED

Diana Greene Foster, Ph.D. is a demographer and reproductive health researcher who has spent a decade studying the impact of unwanted pregnancies on the women who seek abortions — and the ones who are denied them. 

Her TED Talk focuses on her biggest body of work: “The Turnaway Study,” which provides a data-driven, important framework to understand the mental, physical, and socioeconomic consequences that occur when women are denied access to abortion. 

While the facts she brings to her Talk are enough to be staggering, what is most effective is the narrative arc she uses to illustrate the real-life implications of reproductive care.

“Our research shows it’s completely clear that people know how to judge their own circumstances and make decisions that are right for themselves,” Foster told Good Good Good at TEDWomen in 2023. 

“They’re not thinking of the politics. They’re not thinking of the law. They’re just trying to make a good decision for themselves and their kids and their family and their future.”

Watch Diana Greene Foster’s TED Talk

Sheryl Lee Ralph: A 3-step guide to believing in yourself

Sheryl Lee Ralph speaks on stage at TED 2023 in a blue pantsuit
Sheryl Lee Ralph speaks at TED 2023. Photo courtesy of Gilberto Tadday / TED

Sheryl Lee Ralph is an actress and singer currently best known for her role as Mrs. Barbara Howard on the beloved sitcom “Abbott Elementary.” But she wasn’t always the icon we know her to be.

In this Talk, Ralph shares a simple guide to building self-confidence — and she sure radiates that confidence on stage! 

As she stood before the audience, she even belted out a song: “I am an endangered species/ but I sing no victim song/ I am a woman/ I am an artist/ and I know where my voice/ belongs.”

Throughout her Talk, Ralph weaves a narrative that details all the rejections she faced early in her career — all the way up to her Emmy Award win — sharing how she built herself up along the way.

“We’ve got to act like we believe in ourselves,” she said. “When we believe in ourselves and act on it, we create possibilities that never would have been possible had we not just believed.”

Watch Sheryl Lee Ralph’s TED Talk

Aisha Nyandroro: What does ‘wealth’ mean to you?

Aisha Nyandroro speaks on the TED stage
Aisha Nyandoro speaks at TED Women 2023. Photo courtesy of Gilberto Tadday / TED

Aisha Nyandroro is the mastermind behind the country’s first, and most successful, guaranteed income project centering Black mothers. 

Nyandroro’s TED Talk tells a beautiful story of her own experience with finances growing up and leads into the work she has done with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust. The trust has provided four cohorts of Black mothers in Jackson, Mississippi with the money they need to thrive: $1,000 in cash on a monthly basis for 12 months.

“The problem was the lack of cash. No money for pizza on a Friday night was causing stress. Unexpected car repairs were leading to unemployment because people could not get to and from work,” Nyandroro explained in her Talk.

“So, we began to research how do you give money — not another program — to people experiencing poverty?”

The results of her work, and subsequently, her Talk, provide a thoughtful new approach to money and wealth that all women could benefit from.

“Wealth is about a sense of agency, a sense of freedom, the collective well-being of the whole,” she said. 

Watch Aisha Nyandroro’s TED Talk

Alua Arthur: Why thinking about death helps you live a better life

Alua Arthur smiles on the TED stage, her hands over her heart in gratitude
Alua Arthur speaks at TED 2023. Photo courtesy of Ryan Lash / TED

Alua Arthur is one of the most well-known death doulas in America, and as the founder of her end-of-life planning organization Going with Grace, she has a unique perspective on the meaning of life.

Arthur’s TED Talk is certainly a tear-jerker — but one you won’t want to miss. In it, she crafts a beautifully detailed argument for why death planning is so helpful — and why talking about death in general makes life so much more magical.

By establishing a thread for how she envisions her “dream” death, Arthur uses her own life story to contextualize the work she does with others — to prepare them for the end of their lives while embracing the wonder of life itself.

“Death creates context for our lives,” Arthur said. “How we die creates the period at the end of the sentence, but it is the period that makes it a sentence at all.”

Watch Alua Arthur’s TED Talk

Golshifteh Farahani: ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ in Iran — and what it means for the rest of the world

Golshifteh Farahani is displayed on a screen at TED
Golshifteh Farahani speaks at TED2023. Photo courtesy of Jasmina Tomic / TED

An actor and musician who was exiled from her home country of Iran for her activism work, Golshifteh Farahani continues to make meaning and confront injustice in her work.

In Farahani’s TED Talk, which she delivered virtually, she honors other activists who have fought for the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement in Iran and urges the rest of the world to take a stand. 

With a poetic cadence and moving reflections on injustice and violence, Farahani’s TED Talk is a must-watch for feminists fighting for liberation and justice for all.

“We can all decide today to be the bridge to unite rather than separate,” she said. 

Watch Golshifteh Farahani’s TED Talk

Angeline Murimirwa: School is just the start. Here’s how to help girls succeed for life

Angeline Murimirwa speaks from the TED stage
Angeline Murimirwa speaks at TED2023. Photo courtesy of Jasmina Tomic / TED

Angeline Murimirwa is the CEO of CAMFED, a pan-African movement revolutionizing education for girls — and is expected to empower over five million young women by 2030.

She began her TED Talk by explaining how many folks believe girls’ education to be a “silver bullet” to some of the world’s biggest challenges. However, Murimirwa posits, if there are no structural changes to the barriers girls face once they leave school, we can’t count on any of those solutions.

Murimirwa then goes on to detail the work CAMFED does to build support systems and communities for girls beyond their primary schooling. This includes comprehensive financial support, partnering with African governments to implement real solutions, and helping girls transition into leadership through the organization’s graduate association.

“Believe me when I tell you that girls’ education is the silver bullet,” Murimirwa concluded at the end of her Talk, “But only if you do it right.”

Watch Angeline Murimirwa’s TED Talk

Paige Alexander: When you inform women, you transform lives

Paige Alexander gives a TED Talk
Paige Alexander speaks at TEDWomen 2023. Photo courtesy of Gilberto Tadday / TED

As the CEO of the Carter Center, Paige Alexander has spent her career advocating for human rights. In this TED Talk, she dives into the human right to information and how the Carter Center has implemented this in a way that empowers women across the globe.

The majority of her Talk focused on the Center’s campaign: “Inform Women, Transform Lives,” which spans five continents and has reached 215 million people since its inception in 2021.

From educating female entrepreneurs, to implementing billboards, radio jingles, transit ads, social media, and more, Alexander shared how she and her team are able to connect women to the information they need, when they need it most.

“I consider [information] a master key, because it unlocks human rights for everyone around the world,” Alexander said. 

Watch Paige Alexander’s TED Talk

Irina Karamanos Adrian: It’s time to rethink the role of First Lady

Irina Karamanos Adrian gives a TED Talk
Irina Karamanos Adrian speaks at TEDWomen 2023. Photo courtesy of Gilberto Tadday / TED

Irina Karamanos Adrian is the former First Lady of Chile — and former domestic partner of the Chilean president, Gabriel Borcic. When he was elected, she agreed to take on the role, but with one goal in mind: To change it entirely, and then vacate her seat.

In her TED Talk, Adrian talks about the institutional logistics of becoming a First Lady and why she felt that it was undemocratic to have any sort of power that she wasn’t given as an elected official. She also reflected eloquently on how the role of First Lady reflects antiquated gender stereotypes. 

“Suddenly, you become a very special kind of woman: another half,” she said. “My approach would be to tackle both issues: the democratic illegitimacy of having the institution of marriage so embedded in the state … and the gender bias imagined around this figure.” 

Watch Irina Karamanos Adrian’s TED Talk

Header image courtesy of Gilberto Tadday/TED

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