Published 6th March 2019
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” – Gloria Steinem. Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It has been celebrated for over a century, with the first event taking place in 1911. Thankfully, since then a lot has changed with regards to gender equality, but of course we still have a way to go.
This is why it is still so important to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year the theme is #BalanceforBetter which is a call to challenge gender bias and increase gender balance around the world.
International Women’s Day in the EFL Classroom
In the EFL classroom we enjoy celebrating holidays, both national and international. International Women’s Day should be no different. Regardless of where you are and who is in your classroom, it is important to spend the day focusing on the achievements of women over time, the current gender inequality that is still present in all societies, and the future for women.
We’re not suggesting that you hold a march or demonstrate outside your school, but there are a number of activities you can include in your lesson in celebration.
If you access to the Internet, organise a webquest for your students. Assign each student or pair of students a famous woman and give them time to research her and her life. They can then present this to the class. Examples of women are: Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst, Serena Williams, Malala Yousafzai and Florence Nightingale.
Similarly, students could give a presentation of a remarkable woman from their country.
Source biographies of women and print them out. Divide the readings so that each student in a pair has only certain information on the woman. Pairs must ask each other questions to find out all the information about the woman in question.
If gender roles were reversed
Ask your students to imagine what it would be like if gender roles were reversed in their communities. Use this to discuss the current situation women find themselves in every day and how your students could contribute to changing the status quo.
There are a number of videos online that parody this situation that can be used as a discussion starter, but make sure you watch them first before showing them to your students – they may not be appropriate for younger or more conservative audiences!
As an English as a Foreign Language teacher you are probably not in your home country right now, so you may be unsure what you can do to celebrate Women’s Day. While you should certainly take part in whatever celebrations are taking part in your community, you can also take the opportunity to celebrate women in the classroom.