National Speech

Writing Competition

About ActionTalks

ActionTalks is the newly relaunched ActionAid National Speech Writing Competition.

The 2021 competition is now closed. The competition was open to all students aged 14 to 17. The first prize is a €500 One4All voucher for the winning student and a €500 One4All voucher for their teacher.


  1. The coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity to imagine a more equal and sustainable world, but we must act now.
  2. With a shocking increase in violence against women and girls, the coronavirus pandemic has shown us that the struggle for gender equality is far from over.
  3. The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us of the importance of global solidarity and international aid.

What we are looking for

Finalists will come up with innovative, well-researched, and creative speeches. They will effectively connect their own unique perspective of growing up in a pandemic to global issues.

The final

The final will take place in February 2021 over Zoom. Each finalist will be asked to deliver their speeches virtually to a panel of esteemed judges.

About ActionAid

ActionAid provides long term support to the poorest and most marginalised women and children in developing countries, so they can overcome the obstacles holding them back. Its Women’s Rights Programme, funded by Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs, works to eliminate violence against women and girls by engaging with women and girls, as well as men and boys. Throughout 2020 the programme has also been supporting communities in Nepal, Kenya, and Ethiopia to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs, programmes are funded by Irish citizens and are part of Ireland’s important global role in overcoming poverty and inequality.

The Rules

  1. ActionTalks competition is open to all secondary students aged 14 to 17.
  2. All speeches should be typed with the students name and school at the top of the page and submitted by a teacher on behalf of the student via email to
  3. The speech length should be 600 words approx. and take five minutes to read.
  4. References can be submitted as appendices.
  5. Speeches must be unique, plagiarised speeches will be disqualified.
  6. Each entrant must fill out the following short survey, available here.
  7. By submitting a speech, the student and school are giving permission for the speech and the student and school name and image to be publicised on the ActionAid website and in third party publications. Only finalist speeches will be published.
  8. Deadline for submission is Friday 15th January 2021.

2020 Competition

Tara McLaughlin, a student at The Grammar School in Co Sligo and Edel Colgan, a student at St Leo’s College in Co Carlow won the 2020 ActionAid Speech Writing Competition.

The final, held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, was attended by over 70 people – with attendees hailing as far as the United States and Greece.

The finalists delivered their passionate speeches in front of a panel of esteemed judges:

  • Saoirse McHugh (Green Party & Climate Activist)
  • Shane Keenan (Policy Lead – Gender Equality, Irish Aid)
  • Órla Ryan (Journalist with the
  • Dr Ciarán O’Carroll (Climate Scientist & Extinction Rebellion )

The speeches, which all looked at the intersection between climate justice and gender equality, were judged on delivery, writing skills, and understanding of the topic.

While all the finalists demonstrated a keen interest in women’s rights and climate justice, there could only be two winners.

Edel Colgan and Tara McLaughlin stood out for their critical thinking, depth of research, originality and outstanding delivery.

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