International Women’s Day this year falls on March 8th. If you’re interested in doing something at school, their site has loads of resources and suggestions for their theme #eachforequal https://www.inteArnationalwomensday.com/Resources
IWD is about raising awareness about the inequalities that still exist for women around the world. Whether it’s in education, healthcare, work, finance, or any other aspect of life, women still experience inequality at virtually every level.
The international statistics are horrifying – but the really, amazingly hopeful thing is that when men and women are equal, everything improves. UN research backs this up. When women enter education in a country, you can see a corresponding improvement in infant mortality, healthcare, education levels for girls and boys, better economic development, more secure financial wellbeing. Everything.
In the UK, we might have achieved things like equal access to education, and equal pay for equal work is the law, but we’re not equal. Not by a long way. Gender divisions still exist and they’re leading to a lack of women in professional fields that really need them. We have an intensely masculine attitude towards leadership in many workplaces that holds back both men and women who don’t want to conform to the alpha male stereotype. We have boys who would love to be their family’s main carer and girls who want to be CEO of their own company, and both are being subtly told every day that it isn’t for them.
What can we do in schools on IWD?
Raise awareness. A single day does that, and can light a spark of recognition. Students don’t always realise what the situation is like.
- Complete activity cards for students to commit to taking action
- Explore case studies, factsheets and gender stereotype comics that explain how inequality persists.
- Numbers are powerful. Ask students to find out, for example, the percentage of childless men/women in parliament, how many female MPs or FTSE 100 CEOs there. What the proportion of male nurses is. How about builders involved in Wembley Stadium? What’s the gender divide for teaching vs. headteachers?
- Show a video that exposes gender stereotypes, like the Pantene “Sorry not sorry” , or “Why we have too few women leaders“, and discuss where they’ve seen these examples.
- Discuss use of language. Ask them to categorise the descriptions on this sheet by male/female. They’re likely to find it surprisingly easy. If they don’t – great!! But it’ll probably provoke some discussion. Then follow up with this article about the gendered language managers use to describe their employees.
- Celebrate strong women! Make postcards or another display about the strong women that they know and why they are inspiring.