International Women’s Day teaching resources
Inspiring International Women’s Day teaching ideas
Marking major events and celebrations is a great way to create exciting, real-world relevant lessons for your students – and International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March is no exception.
This global celebration not only celebrates the incredible achievements of women but draws attention to the inequalities that so many still face. Even in 2021, there are still large numbers of women who don’t have the right to vote, drive, or leave the house on their own.
It’s important, therefore, that learning activities for your students – whatever their age – aim to establish a positive mindset about gender equality that empowers and inspires girls to break barriers and stereotypes and encourages boys to become ambassadors for women’s rights. And while there are some tried and true ideas, we’ve got a few new ones for you to try in your classroom.
Celebrated on March 8th every year, International Women’s Day is an important day. It is a day whereby the cultural, political, and socio-economic achievements of women are acknowledged. It is not just this day that is important, since 1987 March is now officially Women’s History Month. So, if you are looking to acknowledge the day within your classes, at an assembly or even in homeroom, we have put together some activities that you can use with a video we created that looks at women’s suffrage throughout modern history.
Firstly, why do we celebrate International Women’s Day?
For over 100 years IWD has celebrated the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women, and highlighted the continued need for action towards gender parity.
The day provides an opportunity for un-sung female heroes to be honoured and gender equality and human rights issues to be discussed publicly.
The key to teaching students about International Women’s Day
Some of the issues that are highlighted as part of International Women’s Day – particularly those affecting women in developing countries – may seem difficult to grasp for your students. The key to engaging lessons for IWD is to make them interactive, age-relevant and incorporate an element of self-direction.
Interactive: While imparting information is important, being lectured at is unlikely to inspire our future female leaders and women’s rights activists. Practical activities such as the ones listed below will spark curiosity and embed learning more effectively.
- Age-relevant: While women are doing incredible things in the business world, exploring their achievements might be better suited to senior secondary students. Younger primary students will love the excitement of historical heroines like Amelia Earhart or modern-day explorers like Namira Salim – the first Pakistani to reach the North Pole.
Self-directed: It goes without saying that students engage best when they are interested in the topic, so allow them to research female role models who are meaningful to them – whether related to a hobby or sport, from their own family, or for senior students – their future career.
1. Start with a student-friendly International Women’s Day video
The multi-sensory nature of video provides students with the perfect topic-starter for IWD issues such as equal pay, breaking down stereotypes in the workplace, the historical and future roles of women in society, and promoting female role models.
ClickView has a range of videos available including our International Women’s Day Miniclip, Work and Leisure in the early 1900s, Women’s Roles in 19th Century Australia and Women and the Eureka Stockade for primary school students. The Global Icons series for secondary students includes features on prominent female figures like Malala Yousafzai, Margaret Mead, Wangari Maathai, Oprah Winfrey, Frida Khalo and Amelia Earheart.
2. International Women’s Day ‘Idol’ game show
Ask students to prepare a two to five-minute presentation about a woman who has changed lives by going against stereotypes or challenging bias.
The women they choose to feature can be people they know, sports stars, scientists, explorers, doctors, researchers, inventors, nurses like Florence Nightingale, activists like Malala Yousafzai or Gretel Thunberg, musicians, authors, dancers, directors, politicians, environmentalists, or media figures.
Students can present information on the person’s:
- early life
- significant achievements
- how they made a difference to other people’s lives
- how they broke stereotypes
- why that woman is important to them
- other interesting facts.
You can group presentations together in heats where the class get to vote or score their favourite female role model. Scores can be placed on a leaderboard, reality-show style, until a winner is announced.
3. Fundraising activity for a women’s charity of their choosing
Ask students to research a women’s charity – either in your local area or overseas – and plan a fundraising activity. This is a great way for them to both learn about women’s issues and make a tangible difference.
This activity could be as simple as selling badges or homemade cupcakes, holding a casual or fancy-dress day, participating in a walk or challenge, or selling tickets to a performance they are putting on.
4. Be inspired by this year’s theme: #BreakTheBias
This year’s IWD theme is #BreakTheBias. It asks us to imagine a world free of gender bias, stereotypes and discrimination that is truly diverse, equitable and inclusive. The theme asks us to examine our own thoughts and actions so that we might start to break the bias on a local level – in our schools, communities, and workplaces.
The official International Women’s Day website suggests we take photos and upload them to social media using the official hashtag and hand gestures. To make this safe for a school setting, skip the social media, create a physical selfie frame for students to use, and print out the photos to hang on a wall in a classroom or public area.
You could also incorporate the theme by:
- Using it as inspiration for an art project such as a collage, painting or performance art piece.
- Setting an assignment to examine gender bias in classic literature.
Having a class discussion, perhaps guided by a drawing activity, that talks about our own biases about toys, jobs and clothing.
Now to get planning
There are myriad teaching resources available to help you plan an inspiring IWD lesson, whether you teach Prep or Year 12. Our favourite sources are:
- ClickView’s primary and secondary video libraries – click here for a free trial
- The official International Women’s Day Website
- The UN Women website
The most important thing to remember when planning your lesson is to choose activities that instill passion and positive energy in students about the possibilities for women in our world.