Tuesday, 8th March 2022 is International Women’s Day (IWD) which is a day about celebrating achievements of women and a call to action for equality for women. Each year has a different campaign theme to raise awareness about a specific topic relating to women’s equality.

This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias.

“Imagine a gender equal world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together, we can forge women’s equality.

Collectively, we can all #BreakTheBias.”

IWD Community

So how can you celebrate this day with your pupils and help them understand what biases are and how we can tackle them?

Learning about bias

The Women’s Rights and Human Rights section of this IWD activity pack may be a good place to start. One of the activities looks at ‘That’s not fair’ scenarios. This kind of language is easily accessible for younger pupils and is a good talking point around how bias is a disproportionate view that is usually unfair (or worse). They could discuss the scenarios, explain why they are unfair and even act them out.

You could continue through the pack or alternatively, you could give children statements to which they say ‘true’ or ‘false’, for example, ‘Girls can’t play football.’ This can help you identify, unpick and challenge any specific gender stereotyping and misconceptions in your class.

The IWD website has invented a pose you can use in photos/videos to show your support for the #BreakTheBias campaign. This could be a good follow-up for the last activity. You could create videos of your pupils completing the pose and sharing a bias they have now broken. For example, if a pupil thought the statement ‘Girls can’t play football’ was true, they could say: ‘I thought girls couldn’t play football but boys and girls can both play football.’ If they didn’t show any biases in the previous activity, they can still show their support by sharing something they think is unfair from the first activity.

How else can they celebrate IWD?

Discover role models. Ask your pupils to research some female role models. They can find out facts about them and share them using a method of their choice. This Prestige article has some really great examples of 21st century inspiring women, so pupils can celebrate the achievements of women today. You could also ask pupils to identify their own female role models and share why they inspire them, e.g. ‘My sister is my role model because she works really hard to support me and my mum.’

Learn about women’s history. Explore important events in women’s history and women from history who have made an impact today. You could explore some of the events from this timeline of Women’s Rights in the UK or perhaps you could choose some books from this GEC Best Books Collection ‘Books about inspiring people,’ which includes lots of different books about women who have changed the world.

Celebrate the women in their lives. I remember a few years ago, a Year 2 pupil came into school with a bunch of flowers and gave them to me, wishing me a ‘Happy International Women’s Day!’ When I thanked him, he said, ‘I have flowers for all the special women I know’ and then proceeded to also give my TA a bunch of flowers. Then he told us the members of his family he also gave a bunch to. His mother had told him all about International Women’s Day and had suggested they get flowers to celebrate. He then chose the women he felt were important parts of his life. The gesture was so touching and I think there are ways this can definitely be replicated in the classroom. For example, your pupils could make a certificate/card/paper flowers for special women in their lives. I’m sure it would make their day (like it did mine!) to get that recognition.

Sources and further reading

The International Women’s Day Website: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

Global Equality Collective – Raising Rebels: https://thegec.org/raisingrebels