Happy International Women’s Day! March the 8th is a day for celebrating the many achievements of women across the globe. It is also a day to highlight issues that still need to be solved in order to accomplish equality. The #IWD2020 theme is #EachforEqual, calling for each of us to take control of our actions and be held accountable in a world where “we can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements.”

2019 felt like a mixture of achievements and failures for women’s rights. Whilst Saudi Arabia granted women the right to drive without a male chaperone, Turkey announced the ‘marry-your-rapist’ law. In Finland women dominated the top political spots, including the youngest Prime Minister ever elected, yet the 2020 Sex and Power Index from the Fawcett Society shows that men still dominate every sector of politics, public life and business. Whilst Ireland brought in legislation so that women and girls can terminate a pregnancy without fear of being prosecuted, states across the U.S. are passing the most restrictive abortion laws in decades, potentially putting women’s lives at risk.

6 Discussion Points for International Women's Day

The following six topics are designed to promote awareness and discussion in the classroom.

  1. 1.       Women are 47% more likely to suffer severe injuries in car crashes because safety features are designed for men. It is true that we live in world designed for men as we consistently use data where test subjects are male. This is known as the gender data gap. What implications does this have on society? What other data is male biased? What could we do to change this?
  2. 2.       It is estimated that the gender pay gap will take around 202 years to close (World Economic Forum). In 2019, 78% of the UK’s biggest companies reported a gender pay gap in favour of men. How has this happened? Why do you think it will take so long to close the gap? What benefits will the world see when men and women earn the same?
  3. 3.       Women in the UK can still be forced to wear heels at work. Many other countries have banned this practice. Why are gender stereotypes like this harmful? Ask students to provide examples and describe how they were affected.
  4. 4.       There are an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year. This is done as a perceived need to control female sexuality. Why do you think FGM still continues? What can we do to raise awareness of the dangers of this outdated practice?
  5. 5.       2019 saw the first all-woman spacewalk. The legacy of sexism that women face in STEM is changing for the better. The percentage of women graduating from STEM courses is slowly increasing. Why do you think we are seeing this? What benefits will society gain from more women being involved in STEM?

2019 was a record-breaking year for women in sport. Brazilian soccer superstar Marta scored her 17th World Cup goal making her the top-scorer in tournament history for both men and women. US gymnast Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast in the world after winning her 25th medal. Why is it important that the media covers these events? Why should society invest more to encourage women into sport?