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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stands before a group of young children, shaking hands with one of them
Photo: James Garrison

Welcome to the ITVS COMMUNITY CLASSROOM lesson plans for IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA, an intimate documentary that goes behind the scenes with Africa's first freely elected female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia. The film explores the challenges facing the new president and the extraordinary women surrounding her as they develop and implement policy to rebuild their ravaged country and prevent a descent back into civil war.

These two lessons examine what democracy looks like internationally and in countries outside the U.S. and whether the world’s governments would be different with more women in power. These lessons are directed toward grades 9 through 12, and college students for use in the following subject areas: social studies, politics, women’s studies, international studies and civics.

Democracy Around the World
Grade Levels: 9 to 12, College

Democracy exists in different forms in many countries throughout the world. Some countries could be considered in transition or developing democracies, while others are more established. Other countries may have a different political system, yet still be influenced by democracy, especially as it has been strongly promoted around the world by the United States and other Western countries. This lesson has students examine what democracy looks like and how it plays out in countries with different political, ideological and cultural histories and backgrounds.

Democracy Around the World Lesson Plan (PDF, 204K)

Women and Democracy
Grade Levels: 9 to 12, College

From the U.S. Women’s Suffrage movement to Africa’s first elected female president to the possibility of the first female presidential nominee from a major party in 2008, women have long played a critical role in shaping democracy. This lesson examines the significant women-led administration of Liberia and asks whether the world’s governments would be different with more women in power. Students will also consider how notable women in American politics have either challenged government to change, or maintained the status quo.

Women and Democracy Lesson Plan (PDF, 156K)

Related Lesson Plans
What is Democracy? and Participating in a Campaign are available in the VOTE DEMOCRACY! Educator Guide (PDF, 632K)

About ITVS Community Classroom

ITVS Community Classroom is an educational resource providing new documentary video content and accompanying curricular materials, lesson plans, and homework assignments, to high school and community college instructors and youth-serving community-based organizations. Content is grouped into subject specific segments that correspond to lesson plans and educational activities. All Classroom materials are designed with key education standards in mind.

Educational content was developed with guidance from the ITVS CLASSROOM National Advisors: PBS Teachers, the National Council of Churches, American Association of Community Colleges, 4-H, National Council for the Social Studies and National Council of Teachers of English.

IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA premieres nationally on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens on March 18, 2008.

Iron Ladies of Liberia is a co-production of Just Media and Gabriel Films and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

ITVS Community Classroom is a product of the Independent Television Service with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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