Empowering Minds: Teaching Women’s History Month in Your ELA Classroom

Women’s History Month is celebrated annually in March to recognize and honor the contributions and achievements of women throughout history. It is a time to reflect on the significant role that women have played in shaping our society and to acknowledge the progress that has been made towards gender equality. Women’s History Month activities can be used as a reminder that women have been at the forefront of many significant movements and have paved the way for future generations.

Women's History Month

A brief timeline of Women’s History Month

The history of Women’s History Month dates back to the early 1900s when women began to advocate for their rights and equality. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City to demand better pay, shorter work hours, and the right to vote. This event became known as the Women’s Suffrage March and was the beginning of the women’s rights movement.

In 1910, Clara Zetkin, a German socialist, proposed the idea of an International Women’s Day to promote equal rights for women. The proposal was unanimously approved by the attendees of the International Conference of Working Women, and the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland on March 19, 1911.

In the United States, the first Women’s Day was celebrated in 1909, and the idea of a Women’s History Week was proposed by the Women’s History Institute in California in 1978. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week, and in 1987, Congress declared the entire month of March as Women’s History Month.

An amazing opportunity

Women’s History Month is an opportunity to recognize the achievements of women in various fields, including politics, science, arts, literature, and sports. It is a time to celebrate the courage, resilience, and perseverance of women who have broken down barriers and shattered stereotypes.

Some notable women in history who have made significant contributions include Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for her research in physics and chemistry; Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, leading to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights Movement; and Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist who fought for girls’ right to education and became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

Women have also made significant strides in politics, with women such as Kamala Harris, the first female Vice President of the United States; Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; and Jacinda Ardern, the current Prime Minister of New Zealand, making history and paving the way for future generations of women in politics.

Women’s History Month activities are not just about celebrating the achievements of women in the past, but it is also about recognizing the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality. Women still face barriers and discrimination in many areas of society, including in the workplace, in politics, and in everyday life. Women’s History Month serves as a reminder that we still have a long way to go and that we need to continue to work towards a more equal and just society.

Women’s History Month in Your Class

Celebrating Women’s History Month in an English class provides an excellent opportunity to teach students about the significant contributions of women in literature. It is an opportunity to highlight the works of female writers who have shaped and impacted the literary landscape.

English teachers can focus on the works of famous female writers such as Virginia Woolf, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Jane Austen, and Emily Dickinson. They can discuss the themes and motifs in their works, the challenges they faced as female writers in a male-dominated field, and their influence on future generations of writers. Additionally, teachers can encourage students to explore works by lesser-known female writers and discuss how their contributions have been historically overlooked.

Furthermore, teachers can use Women’s History Month to encourage their students to explore different perspectives and experiences in literature. By reading works by female authors, students can gain a better understanding of the unique challenges faced by women and how their experiences differ from those of male writers. Celebrating Women’s History Month in an English class is an opportunity to broaden students’ understanding of literature and the role that women have played in shaping it.

What’s next?

How about you? What are you going to do this year in order to make celebrate women in your class? If you want to setup a successful NO PREP Women’s History Month Unit, click on the image below!

Women's History Month

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