Since 1987, March has been designated as Women’s History Month. This year, we are sharing some of the top TED Talks given by women leaders from a gamut of backgrounds. These women use humor, vulnerability, and wisdom to claim permission to step into power, validate women’s experiences, and change the world with their stories.
Here’s a look at seven of our favorite TED Talks from remarkable women around the globe.
1. Africa is a Sleeping Giant – I’m Trying to Wake it UpbyAdeola Fayehun
About the speaker: Adeola Fayehun is a Nigerian journalist and political satirist who focuses on geopolitical, social and economic issues affecting Africans. She hosts a satirical news show on YouTube called Keeping It Real with Adeola, produced and published on the “Adeola Fayehun” YouTube channel. Previously, she worked for SaharaTV.
What her talk is about: Follow along as she roasts corrupt African officials and shows why the continent already has all it needs to take its rightful place on the world stage — if only leaders would start taking responsibility.
2. How to Fix a Broken School? Lead fearlessly. Love hard.by Linda Cliatt-Wayman
About the speaker: Linda Cliatt-Wayman is a renowned education leader with an unwavering belief in the potential of all children. Cliatt-Wayman grew up in poverty in North Philadelphia, where she experienced firsthand the injustice perpetuated against poor students in their education. She vowed to dedicate her life to helping as many children escape poverty through education as she could.
What her talk is about: On her first day as principal at a failing high school in North Philadelphia, Cliatt-Wayman was determined to lay down the law. But she soon realized the job was more complex than she thought. With palpable passion, she shares the three principles that helped her turn around three schools labeled “low-performing and persistently dangerous.” Her fearless determination to lead — and to love the students, no matter what — is a model for leaders in all fields.
3. Three Ideas. Three Contradictions. Or Not?by Hannah Gadsby
About the speaker: Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby skewers the straight world’s dismissal and outright hostility toward the LGBTQ community in her stand-up sets, stage performances and television shows.
What her talk is about: Her groundbreaking Netflix special “Nanette” broke comedy. In a talk about truth and purpose, she shares three ideas and three contradictions. Or not.
4. The Legacy of Matriarchs in the Yukon First Nationsby Kluane Adamek
About the speaker: Kluane Adamek, she/her/hers (traditional name is “Aagé”), has served as the Assembly of First Nations Yukon Regional Chief since January 2018. She is a proud northerner and citizen of Kluane First Nation. Regional Chief Adamek belongs to the Dakl’aweidi (Killerwhale) Clan and comes from a diverse background with Tlingit, Southern Tutchone, German and Irish origins.
What her talk is about: In the Yukon First Nations, women lead. Generations of matriarchs have guided and directed the community by forging trade agreements, creating marriage alliances and ensuring business for all. Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek urges others to follow in the legacy of her people by putting more women at the table and encouraging them to seek spaces where their perspectives can create the biggest impact for a better tomorrow.
5. The Lady Stripped Bareby Tracey Spicer
About the speaker: Tracey Spicer is a multiple award winning Australian author, journalist and broadcaster. In 2019 she was named the NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year, accepted the Sydney Peace Prize alongside Tarana Burke for the Me Too movement, and won the national award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership through Women & Leadership Australia.
What her talk is about: Tracey strips away her pulled-together look on stage as she strips back her daily routine and challenges us all to use our time more productively.
6. How I Stopped the Taliban from Shutting Down My Schoolby Sakena Yacoobi
About the speaker: Dr. Sakena Yacoobi is the CEO of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), which she founded in 1995 in response to the lack of education and health care that the Afghan people were facing after decades of war and strife. Since its founding, AIL has either directly or indirectly impacted the lives of millions of Afghans.
What her talk is about: When the Taliban closed all the girls’ schools in Afghanistan, Sakena Yacoobi set up new schools, in secret, educating thousands of women and men. In this fierce, funny talk, she tells the jaw-dropping story of two times when she was threatened to stop teaching — and shares her vision for rebuilding her beloved country.
7. It’s Time for Women to Run for Officeby Halla Tómasdóttir
About the speaker: Tómasdóttir co-founded Audur Capital, one of few financial companies in Iceland to survive the financial meltdown in 2007. In 2016, responding to popular demand, she ran for president of Iceland. She was an unlikely candidate, with polls predicting one percent of the vote only 45 days before the election. A few weeks later, against all odds, she came in second, supported by 28% of Icelanders.
What her talk is about: With warmth and wit, Halla Tómasdóttir shares how she overcame media bias, changed the tone of the political debate and surprised her entire nation when she ran for president of Iceland — inspiring the next generation of leaders along the way. “What we see, we can be,” she says. “It matters that women run.”
Question: Which of these remarkable women from around the world inspire you to be a better leader from where you are?
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