National Speech

Writing Competition

About ActionTalks

The ActionTalks 2024 national speech writing competition is now open!

  • Open to all students aged 14-18. Enter by submitting a written speech by Friday 12th of January 2024.
  • Five entrants from each region (Leinster, Munster, and Ulster/Connacht), 15 in total, will be selected for the regional finals. To take part in the regional final, the 15 finalists will be asked to submit a video of themselves reading their speech.
  • Two winners from each region (six in total) will be selected to go forward to the national final and will receive a €50 One4All voucher each
  • National first prize: €500 voucher for the winning student and a €100 voucher for their teacher

What we are looking for

Finalists will come up with innovative, well-researched, and creative speeches, which make the topics personal to them. They will examine how the concentration of power and resources in northern countries continues to impact the lives of people in the Global South. 

The regional finals

The regional finals will take place online in February 2024.

The final

The final will take place in March 2024. Each finalist will be asked to deliver their speeches in person to a panel of esteemed judges.

Topics in the ActionTalks Speech Writing Competition

  1. Agroecology, which is farming that works with nature, is one solution to the climate crisis at home and abroad. Discuss making reference to women’s rights. 
  2. Structural change is needed to tackle unpaid care work, which keeps women and girls in poverty by preventing them from going to school or earning an income.  
  3. Rates of gender-based violence are increasing due to conflict and climate change. What can Ireland do?   

Teaching resources

This year we have developed three teaching resources, including a presentation and lesson plan, for each of the three topics. You can access the resources for free by filling out the below form.

The Rules

  1. ActionTalks competition is open to all secondary students aged 14 to 18.
  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 12th January 2024.

About ActionAid

ActionAid works with women and children, as they take the lead in claiming their human rights to build a more just world. Throughout the world, ActionAid works to strengthen the capacity and agency of people living in poverty and exclusion, especially women, to assert their rights. 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. 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. For more information about our Women’s Rights Programme click here.

Taking further action

Would your students like to take further action on the issues they have learned about as part of the competition such as contacting a local politician or writing a letter to your local newspaper? If so, you can download our free take-action guides here to support your students to take further action.

The 2023 Competition

Aimee Plunkett, a student at Colaiste Chiarain, Athlone, won ActionTalks 2023 at the final in March 2023 with her speech on unpaid care work. Judges on the day were Jennifer O’Connell, Irish Times; Oisin Coghlan, Friends of the Earth; Maria Riordan, Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs; and Jessica Mandanda, a gender and communications specialist from Malawi.

In 2023 students wrote speeches on climate justice, economic barriers to accessing education, and valuing unpaid care work. ActionAid received 143 entries from 40 schools across 16 counties. Aimee took part in the regional finals, before going forward to the national final. For winning first place she received a €500 voucher and her teacher received a €100 voucher.

Karol Balfe, CEO of ActionAid Ireland said: “The standard of the speeches submitted in this year’s competition was very high, and difficult to judge at every stage of the competition. It was heartening to see so many students across the country take part and share their views on global issues so articulately, and with such passion. Aimee had clearly researched the topic of unpaid care work at length. She developed strong arguments and then delivered the speech confidently. We are delighted to announce Aimee as the winner of ActionTalks and she should be very proud.”


2023 winner Aimee Plunkett

CHY 6888, Company Reg. No. 95403, Tax No. 4732722I, Registered Charity No. 20013790

Ireland Website Design