100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day

2 March 2011

International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some countries like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, IWD is a national holiday – and in many cases men buy women presents or flowers to celebrate the day.

The first IWD event was run in 1911, so 2011 sees the Global Centenary of International Women’s Day.

In class, you could use the opportunity offered by the IWD centenary to celebrate the achievements of women around the world, and explore women’s rights, particularly in poorer countries. You could prompt a discussion by asking “Why is there a International Day specifically dedicated to women?” or “After 100 years, do we still need an International Women’s Day?” Some of the resources below can help students to research their arguments.

This short video clip features pictures of 100 women to celebrate 100 years of women’s achievements. Unfortunately, there’s no list of names, but which ones can you identify? Are there any other women you would include?

(You may be able to find further information about the women featured on the video clip on the 100 Women of Destiny website.)
Celebrating women
Oxfam Oxfam’s Celebration web page has some great stories from women around the world celebrating their achievements.
Thomson Reuters The news organisation Thomson Reuters has created a slideshow featuring 26 images of women from across the globe, “living in extraordinary times”.
ActionAid ActionAid has prepared a free Powerpoint for use in schools which looks at the lives of women and girls 100 years ago and explores issues for debate around IWD.
Equality and women’s rights
EQUALS EQUALS is a partnership of leading charities that have come together to step up the call for a more equal world. Their website has an IWD timeline highlighting the many different events that have had an impact on gender equality since the early 1900s.
Amnesty International Amnesty International invites students to find out about, and support, three human rights defenders whose lives are in danger because of their work for justice for women.

They also have a film clip and several teaching resources around women’s rights (ages 11-18).

Visit the Amnesty International UK website >>

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Two of the eight MDGs focus specifically on women’s issues:

MDG 3 Promote gender equality and empower women

MDG 5 Improve maternal health

Gender equality Currently most of the 69 million children in the world who are out of school are girls. A key target for MDG 3 is to “Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education”. Better education for women and girls is linked to increases in productivity, agricultural yields, and national income, all of which contribute to lifting people out of poverty.

This year the Global Campaign for Education’s ‘Send My Friend to School’ campaign has changed its slogan to ‘Send My Sister to School’, focussing on the importance of educating girls.

Find out more, and register for a schools pack on the Send My Friend to School website >>

Camfed International is a charity which focuses on educating and empowering girls in Africa. They have produced a free DVD for International Women’s Day about the right to education and why girls and women in particular are excluded from enjoying this right.

Maternal health More than 350,000 women die annually from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, 99% of them in developing countries. In the world’s poorest countries a woman is more likely to die during childbirth than from disease or illness.

The Oxfam activity ‘Every Day Should Be Mother’s Day’ asks young people to participate in the global campaign to improve maternal health.

It includes teaching resources for ages 7-14 enabling young people to explore the global crisis in maternal health and send messages in the form of Mothers’ Day cards to the Prime Minister (deadline 21 March 2011).

Bridges – Making Global Connections have produced ‘Mothers Matter’, a free PDF resource pack enabling primary and secondary students to learn and take action to promote healthy motherhood around the world.

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