International Women Day’s teacher toolkit
March 8 is International Women’s Day, an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made towards achieving gender equality, to celebrate the contributions of inspiring gender equality change-makers, and to renew our commitment to advancing gender equality, in Canada and around the world. During this year’s #BecauseOfYou campaign join us in celebrating the inspiring and diverse trailblazers across Canada who are sparking grassroots movements and driving change in their communities. We encourage you to join the conversation and celebrate International Women's Day in your classroom!
As part of International Women's Day lead a discussion, assign a research project or have students debate on one of the following topics.
Rights and equality
- Gender equality
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
- Discrimination and harassment of women and LGBTQ2 individuals
- Poverty among women
- Gender identity and expression
- Access to education for women and girls
Leadership and democracy
- Women's suffrage
- Empowering women and girls
- Women in politics
- Entrepreneurship and leadership among women
- Women’s career trajectories
- Mentorship program for women and girls
- Women and girls in STEM
- Women with disabilities
- Pay equity
- Consent & sexual violence
- Family violence
- Sexual harassment
- Child and forced marriage
- Victim blaming
- Toxic masculinity
- Violence against LGBTQ2 individuals
- Human trafficking
- Bystander intervention
Spark a conversation
Encouraging your students to share their views and opinions on important social issues is a powerful way to engage them. Generate a dialogue in your classroom by asking students one or more of the following questions:
- Why does gender equality matter and how can we continue to make progress?
- What would Canada be like today if women had not won the right to vote? What other rights might be affected?
- Why are gender stereotypes harmful? Ask students to provide examples and describe how they were affected.
- How does violence against women and girls relate to gender inequality?
- What can we do to end violence against LGBTQ2 individuals?
- What can Canadians do to defend human rights for women and girls living around the world?
- How does gender inequality affect women's prosperity and Canada's economy?
- Why are there fewer women in leadership positions? What can be done to change this?
- Have you observed gender inequality in your own life? Provide some real-life examples.
- What can men and boys do to help eliminate gender inequality?
- What would happen if there were more women involved in politics?
Lead activities in the classroom
Plan a PSA campaign
Address a gender equality issue by creating a public service announcement (PSA) campaign. Ask students to brainstorm common gender stereotypes and suggest ideas for overcoming them, or to identify how the school can become more inclusive for people of all genders. Students can draft scripts to read over the school PA system and create visuals, such as posters and digital media, to promote their messaging either in print or online.
Ask students to research a trailblazer who inspires them. They could be living or deceased, Canadian or part of the international community, in politics, STEM or another field of their choice. Have students prepare a report or presentation on their selected trailblazer including their achievements, impact in their chosen field and how they have promoted gender equality. For ideas of women trailblazers, see our Women of Impact in Canada gallery.
Host a movie screening
Screen a movie or documentary film that deals with gender equality issues. Create a list of questions for students to consider beforehand and encourage them to take notes throughout the screening. Host a discussion session after the movie to explore the film's themes and messages and share students' reactions and opinions.
Put on a play or performance
Encourage students to write a play that explores imagined or real-life scenarios related to gender equality and human rights. Plays could be re-enactments of historical events, stories inspired by student experiences, speculative or science fiction exploring gender equality (or inequality) in the future, adaptations of classic works by feminist authors, or improvisational performances with audience participation.
Organize a model parliament or United Nations
Organize a House of Commons or a United Nations simulation as a way for students to share ideas, debate and express their views on gender equality. Students can write short one-minute statements that present opinions and explore issues facing women and girls around the world, using research to bolster their arguments.
Create a museum celebrating women's achievements
Students can create a museum that celebrates women's achievements by creating posters and exhibits for the classroom or an online gallery. Create categories or themes for achievement, such as arts, politics or science, and strive to create a museum that includes women of different time periods and cultural backgrounds.
Host a guest speaker
Invite a guest speaker from a local women's organization or someone who works on gender equality issues in the community or in government. Ask the speaker to talk to students about the challenges facing women and girls, as well as emerging ideas, solutions and promising practices for how to address them. Arrange to have a question and answer period following the discussion.
Create a work of art
Encourage students to channel their creativity towards an art project that expresses their feelings about feminism and gender equality. Students can work together to create a mural, mosaic, sculpture or a vision board that depicts an important human rights issue or marks important milestones in the quest for equality.
Elect gender equality ambassadors
Hold an election for student ambassadors, students who will be responsible for promoting gender equality in the school. Ambassadors can plan their election platforms and present their views on equality issues gender facing students. Once elected, ambassadors can set up information displays in public areas in the school to discuss issues with peers.
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