International Women's Day

Pressing for Progress, one lesson at a time

On International Women’s Day (IWD), the theme for 2018 is #PressforProgress. Faaria Ahmad, Programme Manager at Think Global talks about the important role teachers play globally to strive for gender parity and on IWD, pressing for progress can be achieved by teaching our students to become critical thinkers and social entrepreneurs.

International Women’s Day 2018 is here and this year, more than ever, it feels like there is an active global movement of women who are calling for change. This movement has gained traction through the Hollywood campaign #TimesUp which is speaking up against sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. This links strongly with the theme for IWD #PressforProgress which strives for gender parity.

SDG 4Achieving gender parity will be a long journey; and women and men will need to reflect, call for change and find inspiration from those who were courageous enough to stand up and stand out. Therefore, it is important to ensure that within our schools we are educating young people to realise the importance of equality and inspiring them through the stories and examples of amazing women around the world and in history. Gender parity must be strived for through quality and inclusive education, as framed in Sustainable Development Goal 4.


The right to education for girls is still a fight for many across the globe.

Malala is only one example among many, of a young girl who fought for an education against all odds. I recently spoke with an Afghan relative, Bilquis, who spent her childhood in Kabul, Afghanistan, her teenage years in Quetta, Pakistan and her adult life in the UK. Since moving here, she threw herself into education – learning English to a high proficiency level, going on to study ICT and now she’s studying Arabic. She was telling me that as a child she had always loved learning, and even when she couldn’t go to school in Kabul because of the Cold War, she would study at home. Moving to Quetta, did not stop Bilquis’s educational journey, she got married, had children, and continued to educate herself through the means available to her.

It is women like Bilquis, who inspire an entire generation of girls and women to strive for gender parity. And throughout history and in today’s world we find examples of hardworking, restless women dedicated to educating and empowering themselves and their communities. Women who are developing innovative agricultural methods, setting up successful businesses, finding creative ways to educate their students about the world, challenging the status quo and standing up for women’s rights.

International Women's Day

Photo by Mundial Perspectives

How do we celebrate the diversity of courageous and determined women in the classroom? What hurdles must we cross to raise a generation of young people who appreciate the need for gender parity? Should we critically reflect on gender parity through the sustainable development goal’s lens?

There are teachers across the UK who are answering these questions through the work they do with their students. Teachers who are going over and beyond their call of duty to inspire and empower future global citizens. They encourage their students to actively question to help develop critical thinkers, activists and social entrepreneurs.

In the next few weeks, Think Global will be launching the Global Educator of the Year award to find teachers who are inspiring their students to become active global citizens. Check out our website for more information.

Blog by Faaria Ahmad, Programme Manager at Think Global.

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