International Women’s Day is a global day acknowledging the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
In 1908, on the last Sunday of February, socialist women in the United States initiated the first Women’s Day march through the streets of New York City to demand shorter hours, better pay, and the right to vote.
The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March during International Women’s Year 1975. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Be Bold for Change” to create a more gender-inclusive world.
The lives of women have improved in a number of areas over the last two decades—but the pace has been slow and uneven across regions as well as within and among countries.
Women in Education :
Mary McLeod Bethune
Best known as an educator and early civil rights activist, Mary McLeod Bethune was born as the fifteenth of seventeen children to parents who were former slaves. Known as the “First Lady of the Struggle,” she devoted her career to improving the lives of African Americans through education and political and economic empowerment, first through the school she found, Bethune-Cookman College, later as president of the National Council of Negro Women, and then as a top black administrator in the Roosevelt administration. She led the charge to change the segregationist policies of local hospitals and concert halls, and she acted as a mentor to countless African American women in Washington.
Rose Schneiderman was an American socialist and feminist, and one of the most prominent women labour union leaders. As a member of the New York Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL), she drew attention to unsafe workplace conditions, following the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, and helped to pass the New York state referendum of 1917 that gave women the right to vote. Rose rephrased a poem into the words for which she is best known—“The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too”— a reflection of her belief that the goal of the labor movement was to ensure that workers could do more than just meet their basic needs.
Savitribai Jyotirao Phule
Savitribai Jyotirao Phule, born on 3 January 1831, was a social reformer and poet. She played an important role in fighting for women’s rights in India during British rule and is described as “one of the first-generation modern Indian feminists”. Phule along with her husband founded the first women’s school at Bhide Wada in Pune in 1848. Initially, nine girls enrolled themselves as students but later the numbers increased. Savitribai Phule continued with teaching the girls despite all oppositions from the society. In spite of the entire ordeals, she continued teaching. Eventually, In 1852 Jyotiba and Savitribai were felicitated by the government for their commendable efforts in the field of education.
Classroom Activities :
- To introduce the issue of gender inequality
- To explore pupils’ personal experiences
- To consider the difference between how people think about boys and girls
- To explore ideas of stereotype and prejudice
- Ask the students to design a Congratulations card for the birth of either a boy or a girl, then ask the class to look at the cards and consider why they used the pictures / colours etc for a boy or a girl.
For example why do we think of blue as a boys colour and pink as a girls colour, why are there images (such as flowers, bows or butterflies) that are more ‘suitable’ for a girl and images (such as cars, trains or dirty dungarees) that are more ‘suitable’ for a boy?
- Are there differences between men and women as well? For example are there jobs (e.g. truck driver or nurse) which the pupils think are usually associated with or easier to do by men or women. Are there activities (e.g. shopping or DIY) that they think are more suitable to men or women?
- Why do they think there is a difference, and are these reasons really justified or what they are used to thinking?