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The Art of Public Speaking - Manifestations of Women's Public Expression

“I want to see every child going to school and getting education”, Malala Yousafzai said after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 (Yusafzai, 2014). Many years earlier, in 1978, Astrid Lindgren gave a speech on child violence; later, the Swedish government established a law protecting children from corporal punishment (, 2021). In the early 20th century, British activist Emmeline Pankhurst travelled to Britain and the United States to speak out in favor of women's suffrage (, 2021). In the 17th century, at the age of 18 Artemisia Gentileschi was raped. She started a court battle with her father against her rapist, and they won; the accused was sentenced to prison and exiled (Jones, 2016).

Madonna and Child (1613-1614), Artemisia Gentileschi, Galleria Spada. This painting was created when she was about 20 years old. The painting depicts a genuine moment of love and tenderness  between mother and child. Artemisia Gentileschi was the first woman who entered the "The Accademia e Compagnia delle Arti del Disegno" in Florence.

These women lived in different places and at different times. Their stories may differ, but they definitely have one thing in common: they decided to talk. They talked about an issue that they perceived as important for humanity. Malala Yousafzai talked about the education of children, especially girls. Today she continues the action for the realization of her vision that concerns children’ education. Astrid Lindgren fought in Sweden against violence on children, as a result the legislation on punishment was changed. Artemisia Gentileschi spoke about her rape; she was abused, but was acquitted by the court. Then she was the first woman to join the Academy of artists in Florence (Accademia delle arti del disegno, Florence). Speaking about women's suffrage, Emmeline Pankhurst inspired many women, including Louise Weiss in Paris, who campaigned for the right of women to vote.

Public speaking is an art of expression. Its history has roots in Ancient Greece (Kennedy G., 2000). It was built with names like those of Lysias, Demosthenes, Theophrastus, Plato and Aristotle. In Aristotle's work, we find three elements that the speaker takes into account. These are: Ethos, Pathos and Logos. 'Ethos' refers to the character of the person who delivers the speech and how the actions in his life support what the person stands for. Then there is 'Pathos': the quality of emotion that is incorporated and the inner force transmitted to the audience. 'Logos' concerns the argument used by the speaker. In Ancient Greece, women did not study in rhetoric schools. They gained experience through listening or written text. However, female creatures are presented as having the skill to speak publicly and persuade in ancient Greek tragedies or even in comedy like the piece by Aristophanes’ "Lysistrati", (Kennedy, 2000).

Public discourse shows continuous growth and evolution (Bailey, 2018). It is taught in organizations. In addition, there are competitions or well-known debates, where arguments present different perspectives on the same subject (Britannica, 2021). At this point, an issue may arise concerning the "mobilization" of arguments. An argument refers to 'Logos', it can be an orator's invention in order to persuade or influence, but it needs to be examined for validity and the purpose it serves.

In terms of ‘Pathos’, it is studied as an element of speech quality, but also as an important notion of leadership. A central figure in the literature for the study of emotion is Daniel Goleman, researcher and author on emotional issues and creator of the term "Emotional Intelligence". Researchers express different points of view on emotions, on how many they are, and on which ones are primary or which ones are positive. For example, Goleman speaks of anger, sadness, fear, pleasure, love, surprise, disgust and shame, which include even more emotional layers (Goleman, 2015). As the search continues, the emotional palette opens. Research and action is practiced by public people; author, entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Robbins talks about ten emotions of power and those are: love, gratitude, hunger, curiosity, flexibility, cheerfulness, confidence, passion, vitality and sense of contribution (Robbins, 2021). Information, training and education contribute to the study of emotion, and in the case of this text, expressed through public speaking. In this context, the ‘Ethos’ of the speaker emerges as extremely important for the evaluation of the message conveyed. If we look at ethics and actions then we may have more information about the value of the message we receive.

The speech by the female gender changes through the history of humanity. As humanity evolves, with its mistakes and wounds, we see that the presence of women in speaking and expressing themselves in public gains ground and develops dynamics. It is a human right to define opinions and express in society, a right that is being claimed and shaped more and more as it is talked about. People are not divided according to their gender, color or religion when people express themselves in a context governed by values ​​such as respect.

That is why the teaching of public speaking has particular meaning. Some people do it; they stand out and talk. Although, according to research, for other people the fear of speaking in public outweighs the fear of death (Burgess, 2013). This fact leads to the creation of groups for the cases of people who need to be taught, trained, and supported to find their own voice and speak about their own issues. In this way, violence is progressively reduced, and we can say that we are moving towards a more peaceful version of the world.


Bailey E. (2019), A Historical View of the Pedagogy of Public Speaking, Voice and Speech Review, 13:1, 31-42, DOI: 10.1080/23268263.2018.1537218

BBC, Emmeline Pankhurst (1858 - 1928),, retrieved 24.8.2021

Britannica, Emmeline Pankhurst,, retrieved 24.8.2021

Britannica, Debate rhetoric,,retrieved 24.8.2021

Burgess K. (2013), Speaking in public is worst than death for most, The Times,, retrieved 24.8.2021

Goleman D. (2015), Emotional Intelligence, Athens: Pedio (Kathimerini)

Jones J. (2016), More savage than Caravaggio: the woman who took revenge in oil, The Guardian,, retrieved 24.8.2021

Kennedy G. (2000), A New History of Classical Rhetoric, Athens: Papadimas.

Team Robbins T. (2021), Cultivating Positive Emotions,, retrieved 24.8.2021

Yousafzai M., Malala’s Story,, retrieved 24.8.2021

Yousafzai M. (2014), CNN, Malala Yousafzai’s entire Nobel Prize Speech,, retrieved 24.8.2021


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