How to Involve Students in This Year’s International Women’s Day

This Saturday, March 8th, the world will celebrate the 106th International Women’s Day. Since 1911, this day has served as a time to reflect on the economic, social, and political progress made in gender equality and to raise awareness of the challenges that remain.

This year’s theme is “Equality for women is progress for all,” and looking back on 2013, we have much to applaud. Here’s a glance:

1. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57), agreed on a blueprint to eliminate violence suffered by women and girls.

2. Women swept 63.8% of Rwanda’s parliamentary seats (in the lower house), making them the only female majority parliament (although worldwide, women only hold 21% of parliamentary seats).

3. France revoked a 200-year-old law banning Parisian women from wearing trousers. (Yes, really.)

4. Malala Yousafzai, winner of the 2013 UN Human Rights prize, inspired the world by advocating for girls’ education in the face of Taliban restrictions.

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However, our progress is slow and uneven and there’s still much work to be done. Today, women and girls make up 70% of the world’s poor and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population, and in in 33% of countries, boys are disproportionally sent to school.

Inspiring the next generation to be advocates for change on gender issues is key to advancing the hard-fought progress of years past. This is our goal at PopEd and we have many materials that will help you and your students join us in that fight. One example that comes to mind is the activity Lessons for Life, where students watch and listen to photo essays of 2 girls from developing countries to get a sense for the daily challenges faced by women around the world. This is just one way your students can join the rest of the world in marking this year’s International Women’s Day – search our Lesson Finder for more.

Sources: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women; the Inter-Parliamentary Union; World Savvy; Global Status of Women Report; UNESCO, Global Literacy Report