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women's rights: then & now: activity ideas

Activity Ideas | Related Resources

  1. Women in Congress

    Grade Level: 3-5; 6-8
    Subject: Social Studies; Reading & Language Arts; Math

    Do your students know that a women named Jeanette Rankin was serving in Congress before most women in the United States would even vote? Just how many women have served in Congress, and where did they come from? Explore lists of previous Congresswomen and present Congresswomen. Students should use maps and tags to identify those states which were the first to elect women. On a different map another group could code according to which states have elected the most women. Using spreadsheets, students might explore answers to these questions:

    • Compared to census data for each state, which states have the highest ratios of women elected : women in the state?
    • Calculating the number of years each Congresswoman has served, which states have the greatest total number of years with women in Congress?
    • Calculating the total number of elected officials in that state, which states currently have the highest percentage of women in elected positions?
    • How does the United States compare with other countries when it comes to female representation in Congress? Data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union may help you find out.

    Online Resources

    Women in the United States Congress: 1917-2005:

    U.S. Census Bureau:

    Inter-Parliamentary Union:

    Print Resources

    Jeannette Rankin: First Lady of Congress by Trish Marx
    Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics by Catherine Thimmesh and Douglas B. Jones

    More Recommended Resources

  2. Women's Suffrage

    Grade Levels: 3-5; 6-8
    Subjects: Social Studies; Reading & Language Arts; The Arts

    While suffrage is probably the most frequently covered topic in women's history, it still bears repeating, especially for younger students. Cartoons are good for focusing attention. A cartoon from the National Archives suggests one of the arguments used by the "antis" -- those who opposed suffrage. As a writing assignment, students could create a story featuring conversation between the man and woman in this cartoon. Alternatively, students might come up with their own songs about suffrage.

    Online Resources

    Not For Ourselves Alone:

    American Experience: Eleanor Roosevelt -- The Battle for Suffrage:

    NOW: Women and the Vote:

    Inter-Parliamentary Union: A Chronology of Women's Suffrage:

    PBS Lesson Plans/Activities

    Freedom: A History of US -- Women's Suffrage

    Wayback: Stand Up for Your Rights

    Print Resources

    The Road to Seneca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the First Woman's Rights Convention by Judith Wellman

    More Recommended Resources

  3. Women Around the world

    Grade Level: 6-8; 9-12
    Subjects: Social Studies; Reading & Language Arts; Health & Fitness

    Evaluating the status of women rights in other countries is an important indicator of understanding global well-being. Many may think that women's rights is only an issue in countries where religion is law, such as many Muslim countries. Some people may not think this is no longer an issue at all. To get a broad understanding of the issues women face around the world, have students visit the UN Women, Peace and Security web site. This site is sponsored by the UN Development Fund for Women, which promotes women's human rights, political participation and economic security, particularly in war-torn regions.

    Read more about women's rights around the world at these PBS sites:

    Have your students, either individually or in teams, pick a country where women lack political freedoms and/or economic opportunities. Have them develop a multimedia presentation on that country, compiling statistics, images, anecdotes, audio interviews with humans rights experts concerning the status of women. Make sure the class as a whole looks at a wide range of regions and that their presentations cover a wide range of issues that contribute to unequal economic, social and health standing in their countries. Each student or group should present their findings to the class.

    Online Resources

    UN Women's Development Fund:

    American Civil Liberties Union:

    Women's Human Rights Net:

    Global Rights.org:

    PBS Lesson Plans/Activities

    Independent Lens: Afghanistan Unveiled:

    More Recommended Resources

  4. Madame President?

    Grade Level: 6-8; 9-12
    Subject: Social Studies; Reading & Language Arts

    A recent CBS/New York Times poll suggested that the American public might soon elect a woman for president of the United States. Fifty-five percent said the country is "ready" for a woman president, while 38 percent said it was not. Ninety-two percent said they would personally vote for a woman president if "she was qualified." By comparison, in 1955, only 55 percent said they would.

    Take a poll in your classroom, asking these same questions and write the results on the board. Ask students to identify women who would make good presidential candidates (ask for names other Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice). Then ask students to name countries that have had women leaders. (Great Britain, Israel, Pakistan, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Ireland are just a few.) Ask students why they think it has been more difficult for women in the United States to run successfully for president.

    Online Resources

    P.O.V. Chisholm '72:

    American Women Presidents:

    Women World Leaders:

    Print Resources

    Madam President, Revised Edition: Women Blazing the Leadership Trail by Eleanor Clift and Tom Brazaitis
    Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics by Catherine Thimmesh and Douglas B. Jones

    More Recommended Resources

Published: March 2006