How much do your students know about International Women's Day? How do they celebrate it? Do they think women should be celebrated? What do they think about gender equality?
Celebrating International Women's Day (IWD) is probably best done by discussing important issues and learning about inspirational women who fought for women's rights and inspirational people today who are still fighting for gender equality. Explore these topics with your classes and then choose a classic novel by a female author to celebrate women in March.
These might be a difficult phrase for your students. How can you introduce it? Discuss the meaning of the words gender and equality, and then ask your students why it might be an important question.
A little bit of history
For some students the question of gender equality might not mean very much as they may not be aware of the long history behind the fight for equal rights. Here are some ways you can share background information with them.
1 Do a quiz
Challenge your students with this BBC interactive quiz on Women's Rights. Ask them to imagine that they are in 1840. What rights did women have?
2 Watch a film
Watch Suffragette (2015, starring Carey Mulligan and Helena-Bohnam Carter) or the trailer of the film. Talk about when the story happens and what these women were fighting for.
3 Read some texts
You can also start by discussions and worksheets to learn about the history of women's history.
4 Discuss important topics (B2-C1 level)
Here are some discussion questions to get your students thinking.
- Is women's sport as important as men's sport?
- Should only women fight for gender equality?
- Can a man be a feminist?
1 Organisations, projects, campaigns
- Emma Watson and the HeForShe campaign
- Emma Watson on the UN WOMEN website
- Malala Yousafazi: Malala Fund
- A Mighty Girl: 'The world's largest collection of books and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls.'
2 Women and sports
Who are the greatest sportspeople in your country? How many of them are women? Ask your students to collect some names and achievements from the past and the present. This can be a group research project along women and science and other achievements.
Another interesting discussion topic is women's football. What do you think of it?
3 Women and science
Although women were not allowed in public education for centuries, they have made great scientific achievements. Ask your students to find our about the following women who were fundamental to science. Can you think of any other names?
- Ada Lovelace
- Florence Nightingale
- Marie Curie
- Jane Goodall
- Katherine Johnson
- Elizabeth Blackwell
4 Exceptional achievements
Here are the names of four women from very different backgrounds who have become famous for very different achievements. Ask your students to do some research on what they have achieved.
- Alice Huyler Ramsey
- Amelia Earhart
- Anne Frank
In this context the great literary work of classic women writers can be valued even more. How many of these women writers have your students read or heard about? Go to our previous blog post to find biography project cards to learn about these authors.
Let's celebrate women writers and read a book from one of these British, American, Canadian or New Zealander authors.
- Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anna Sewell
- Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Louisa May Alcott
- Jane Austen
- Emily Brontë
- Charlotte Brontë
- Mary Shelley
- Katherine Mansfield
- Virginia Woolf
- Edith Nesbit
- Harriet Beecher Stowe
- Edith Wharton
Check out these lesson plans and projects about some of these novels and authors:
- Black Beauty Interactive Lesson Plan
- Virginia Woolf Special: An Interactive Lesson Plan
- The Brontë Sisters: Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre – Two Film Projects
- Anne of Green Gables Projects for the English Class
And finally, a book recommendation list for you with non-fiction books to read:
- The Second Sex by Simome Beauvoir
- Kiss Sleeping Beauty Good-night by Madonna Kolbenschlag
- The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
- The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830–1980 by Elaine Showalter