Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Education : Talking about International Women's Day

credits:  Christian Schloe

"On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment."

 UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

To honour the achievements and contributions of women in the society, people across the globe celebrate International Women's Day on March 8 every year. 

It has been observed since the early 1900s and is now recognised each year on March 8. Is is not affiliated with any one group, but brings together governments, women's organisations, corporations and charities. 

The original aim – to achieve full gender equality for women the world – has still not been realised. A gender pay gap persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Figures show that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men.
According to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap won't close until 2186.
The theme of the Women's Day 2017 is: "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.

The idea of this theme is to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and number 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. The theme will also focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.

This International Women's Day, Google Doodle chosen to look to the past to celebrate some of the female pioneers who paved the way to where we are today.

Google Doodle Women's Day 2017 slideshow

Google slideshow Doodle features a little girl whose grandmother tells her the best bedtime story ever: the tale of her favorite historical heroine. The little girl then visits 13 remarkable women in her imagination, taking us along on a journey that spans centuries and circles the globe. 

Among these 13 women, we can find Sally Ride, American astronaut & the first woman in space; Ada LovelaceEnglish mathematician, writer, & the world’s first computer programmer; Suzanne LenglenFrench tennis champion who popularized the sport.

20th Century Women 
Mike Mills, 2016

Sarah Gravon, 2015

As educational resources to include into school curriculum on this Women's DayI would like to propose two films: 20th Century Women. Director Mike Mills tells the story of his mother, and other two young women from his childood. And Suffragette, director Sarah Gravon tells the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State.

Mike Mills’ autobiographical 20th Century Women is not just about the three women of his title, his own 55-year-old single mother Dorothea (Annette Bening) and the two younger women, Abbie and Julie (Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning). 

Dorothea realizes his young son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zuman), now 15, needs more than just a mother to raise him, so she recruits Abbey and Julie to help out.

20th Century Women 
Mike Mills, 2016

Dorothea, his mother, is a free-thinking and independent woman, devoted to raising her son Jamie as a moral individual, but strangely determined not to take action against her unhappiness. Dorothea takes in boarders in her enormous southern California house, which is under continuous renovation, a girl and a man. Here the three women:

"Dorothea, born in 1924, Depression-raised, trained as a pilot in the second world war, the first woman draughtsman in her architecture practice, but, sadly, too early a pioneer to make much difference."

20th Century Women 
Mike Mills, 2016

Abbey, a would-be photographer with a New Wave haircut, and Julie Jamie’s friend since kindergarten, halfway between worldly and bewildered, and the object of Jamie’s affection.

Sarah Gavron, 2015

Sarah Gravon's Suffragette, a historic film about British historical period drama.  Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, directed by Sarah Gavron and written by Abi Morgan, and stars Carey MulliganHelena Bonham CarterBrendan GleesonAnne-Marie DuffBen Whishaw, and Meryl Streep.


In early 20th century Britain, the cause of female suffrage was usually ignored by the press and dismissed by politicians. To gain support for their right to vote, suffragettes turned away from peaceful protest and embraced militant tactics that grew to include window breaking and arson. Their fight for equality, which escalated in violence in 1912 and 1913, is depicted in this film Suffragette

The movie shows historical figures and fictional characters interacting as they struggle to get women the vote. 

Six real-life suffragettes (plus one man) who either appear in Suffragette or whose stories are reflected in the film are:

British sufragette  Emmeline Pankhurst, 1911
(1858 - 1928)
credits: Topical Agency/ Getty Images

Hannah Mitchell (fictional character Maud Watts); Emmeline Pankhurst (real-life character of Emmeline PankhurstEdith Ellyn and her husband ( in real-life couple who both supported female suffrage Barbara Ayrton Gould and her husband Gerald Gould)Edith Garrud; Emily Wilding Davison (real-life figure). 

Emily Davison/Natalie Press

Davison's death was a watershed moment for suffragettes. Their movement received worldwide attention and 6,000 women turned out for the funeral  - Suffragette even incorporates archival footage of women trailing behind Davison's coffin. Women and men were finally granted equal voting rights in the United Kingdom in 1928.

Sarah Gavron, 2015

“When we spoke to the academics that consulted on the film they said they weren’t surprised that today it’s still hard to get women’s history taken seriously. It took a long time to get on the school curriculum ­– I wasn’t taught anything about it and later read a few lines at the bottom of a history book. I think it’s partly a symptom of inequality and the fact that these stories have been written out of our history.”

Sarah Gravon

“We’re half the human race,” Maud tells the inspector tasked with quelling the protest. “You can’t stop us all.”


Two different films but very inspirational based on real facts. Suffragette drama about the suffragette movement - inequality voting rights for women in the UK. 20th Century Women about family and identity in US in the 70's. Two touching films. I loved both for the absorbing histories, their courageous, warmth and candour.

Sarah Gavron, 2015

Two films we can easily include into school curriculum on this Women's Day. Suffragette a group of women who fight for equal voting rights. The film does an important job in reminding us of this: a drama about human rights so recently and dearly won.

20th Century WomenDorothea the first woman draughtsman in her architecture practice, too early a pioneer perhaps, free-thinking and independent woman, a single mother trying raise her son alone.

Suffragette is a reminder to girls who are casual about democratic gender equality that votes for women were not something that naturally evolved due to the ruling class’s innate decency. They had to be fought for.

20th Century Women 
Mike Mills, 2016

20th Century Women about  raising a kid by a single mother in the 70's. Could a single woman be a good mother when she has experienced the madness of the 60s and 70s? Does too much freedom kill freedom? 

Dorothea is concerned that she is no longer able to connect with her son. She asks Julie and Abbie to help raise him, stating that he will listen to them since he already has a good relationship with both.

By soliciting the help of two young women, a punk artist and a lovely neighbor, Dorothea hopes to offer Jamie the best education possible. Jamie later learns about his mother's plan and is embarrassed. 

Hidden Figures
Theodore Melfi, 2016

However, you can include on this list Hidden Figures published last February. 

You will explore the films on your own way, by preparing themes and activities previously. 

Level: Junior High School: +14 years-old.

Curriculum: Cross-curricular

To explore 20th Century Women, visit My Mother before Me

Throughout history, women have made extraordinary contributions to their societies. Some are well known, some less so, but all have been trail blazers. 

The discussion of new discoveries and a better understanding of the role of women in many different areas of study such as humanities or scienceand how these ideas and findings can lead to new markets for humanities and science knowledge are important aims. 

Constantly evolving education at all ages and levels in our ever-changing world is crucial. 

"Equality also lies in ridding the media and collective imagination of prejudice by highlighting the women scientists, artists and politicians who are moving."

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova


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