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InternationalWomen'sDay1997

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Special Event: Q&A

Teacherís Notes

Why Womenís Day?

How It Happened

The Issues

Links
Questions and Activities

Why Womenís Day?

Read "Why Women's Day?" in class. Ask the following questions:
  1. Can you come up with any other reasons of your own for celebrating women's day?
  2. Why is it that women's equality is said to be important for all peoples and not just an issue for women?
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How It Happened:
A brief history of International Womenís Day


Create a March Timeline 1857-1917. This should be a Timeline of womenís marches during the month of March in the early years of the struggle of women factory workers.

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The Issues
Who's (Not) in Power: Peace and Politics


Questions to ask students:
  1. Is the head of state/government in your country a man or a woman?

  2. Has a woman ever been the head of state/government in your country?

  3. What is the highest office held by a woman in your country?

  4. Can you name a woman head of state currently in office?

  5. Why do you think there are and there have been so few women in positions of power?

  6. As heads of state, would women take different decisions than men?

  7. Would it make a difference in the world -- in the poverty, violence and inequality that afflict the world -- if there were more women in parliaments and other national and international bodies?

  8. Summarize the points made by the Expert Group Meeting. What would the response of the experts be to the last two questions? Would you agree?
Hints

The word parliament' is used freely to denote a legislative and representative body, such as the US Congress.

You can read the full text of the Expert Group's report, "Political Decision-making and conflict resolution: the impact of gender difference", by going to the following URL: gopher://gopher.un.org/00/esc/cn6/1997/conflict/PRDCR1.EN

Suggestions

The first four questions have concrete answers that must be researched for each country. Some of the relevant cases that have been in world news recently are the appointment of Madeleine Albright to Secretary of State in the United States and Benazir Bhutto's loss in the Pakistani elections. The final set of questions are meant to generate discussion and will bring out differing opinions.

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The Issues
How Many of Who: The Demographics


Questions to ask students:

What factors could account for the difference in ratio of adult men to women in the general population and among the adult population? In other words, why are there more women than men in the adult population but fewer women in the over all population?

Hints
  1. Part of the answer may have to do with information found in another section.
  2. That section is health.
Suggestions

The ratio of women to men is a function of the ratio at birth (how many girls and how many boys are born) AND the mortality patterns (the things that cause death at various stages of a man or woman's life). One of the factors, for example, could be the life expectancy of men compared to that of women. Women live longer than men (by an average of 4 years) in all regions of the world -- a fact that affects the adult population but not the younger population.

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The Issues
Who Lives Longer: Health


Questions to ask students:
  1. Define life expectancy in your own words.
  2. How can you guess how long someone is going to live?
  3. What factors could affect life expectancy?
Hints

You can open the class by asking students to guess who lives longer in general, men or women? You can ask them to guess by how many years. Compare their answers with the actual figures.

Suggestions

Simply, life expectancy refers to the number of years we are "expected" to live. Of course, there is no way to predict how long each person is going to live at the time they are born. But if we take an average of how long people have lived, it gives us an indication of how long a certain cross section of a population might live.

Life expectancy seems to be directly tied to income. The countries with the largest increase in life expectancy were also among the countries with the most rapid increase in their income per capita.

In 1900, life expectancy at birth throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America was 25 - 28 years. Today, it is well over 50 years. Life expectancy everywhere around the world has increased over the past few decades. On average people live about 12 years more today than they did in 1960. It is a measure of the extent to which economic, social and political forces within a country have made it possible for citizens to avoid early death and lead a healthy life.

Among the obvious life-threatening health problems specific to women around the world is maternal mortality: about 600,000 women a year are estimated to die of complications related to childbirth.

With better maternal health care and education, this figure could change dramatically.

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The Issues
Who's in School: Education


(The first activity will be limited to schools with a mixed student body.)

Get the class to count the number of girls and boys in your class or get the numbers for your entire school from the administration.

Ask the class:
Are there more boys or girls? If there were 100 boys, how many girls would there be? How do the ratios compare to the overall ratios in the world population? If there is a significant difference, discuss some of the possible reasons.

Ask the class:
Why would there be more girls out of school than boys?

Hints

For comparisons, see the demographics section.

Suggestions

The class can also make comparisons with ratios in their regions using the table in the Demographics section. The answer to the final question lies in part with tradition and in part with economics. If a poor family has to pay even the slightest bit (for books and paper) for a child's schooling, it will think twice. It will think that a daughter can help around the house to clean and cook, to collect wood and water, and look after younger children. Even if she does go to school, the family looks at how little opportunity there will be for her to get a paying job. Part of the decision is also based on the idea that sons should be educated because they will be the breadwinners of their future families and the supporters of their aging parents.

A girl's work, though it may be longer and harder, is considered less likely to bring in monetary income. In cities everywhere, the number of girls and boys in schools is more even than in rural areas; and there are more girls out of school in developing countries than in industrialized ones.

Teachers can get more information from UNICEF's report, Progress of Nations: http://www.unicef.org/pon96

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