In this lesson plan, students will learn how several factors (history, culture, race, class) influence the ways feminist activists organize to fight gender inequality and understand how they create international coalitions while recognizing their differences through dialogue and consensus-building.
- Explore the transnational nature of certain women’s issues and the interplay of local, national and international forces in their solution.
- Acknowledge the importance of cultural differences and historical trajectories in the ways feminist activists around the world organize together around women’s rights.
- Examine how feminist activists build international coalitions to combat gender inequality by looking at specific case studies.
- Understand how the intersection of global processes and local events influence the development of local feminist activism in specific ways.
Activity One: Global Issues, Local Practices
This activity encourages students to observe the interconnection between global issues and actions at the national level by elaborating concept maps. The goal is to have them recognize how global issues of gender inequality are difficult to address and resolve without transnational collaborations. This activity consists of two components that start activating prior knowledge on a global scale problem and includes reading an excerpt of an interview and generating and classifying ideas based on their geographical scope.
Duration: 30 minutes
Activity Two: Seeking Common Ground
This activity exposes students to the perspectives and experiences of feminist activists around the world considering both differences and similarities when building international coalitions. Students will first confront their own biases in thinking about the status of women outside the United States. The objective is to have them appreciate the importance of diverse vantage points in attempting to create forms of global solidarity.
Duration: 25 minutes
Activity Three: Reimagining Beijing
This activity encourages students to imagine the participation of activists during an international meeting. During a puzzle-like group discussion, students will analyze and assume the role of activists to think of ways to promote women’s rights based on a reading of the Beijing Declaration. This activity fosters non-judgmental openness to diverse points of view and asks students to ground abstract language into concrete strategies.
Duration: 55 minutes
Assessment: Women’s Rights are Human Rights
This assignment encourages students to think historically and critically about the discourse on women’s rights. The goal is that students develop a comparative analysis on how this discourse has evolved and influenced transnational activism since the idea was declared during the Beijing Conference in 1995. By using the interviews of two activists from the same country, the students will create a short fictive broadcast reporting on the topic to a local radio. They will provide some historical context in their broadcast and insert selected quotations (approx. 35 words) from the GFP interviews.
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Adaptation of Transnational Feminisms Lesson Plan to Focus on the Impact of the 1995 Beijing Conference
We note that many teachers are interested in focusing on the impact of international exchanges at conferences in thinking about how the global and local are interrelated. Our interviews are particularly rich with references to participants’ experiences at the 1995 Beijing Conference and its impact on them personally, on the work they returned to and on further regional or international exchange afterwards.
A focus on the 1995 Beijing Conference could include material from any of the following interviews:
Brazil: Shirley Villela
China: Liu Bohong, Ge Youli, Li Huiying, Chen Mingxia
India: Jarjum Ete
Nicaragua: Violeta Delgado
Nigeria: Josephine Effah-Chukwuma
Poland: Barbara Limanowska
Russia: Olga Voronina, Yelena Kochkina
United States: Loretta Ross
You may want to invite students to reflect on how the conference affected the participants directly and personally, and how it affected their understanding of feminist/women’s issues, as well as how it informed their work, including their efforts to create coalitions. You may choose to encourage students to focus on the different ages/life stages of participants and the different impact on them depending on their life and work experience at the time.
Another approach (which can be combined with the first) is to examine the impact of the conference on the development of a structure of non-governmental organizations addressing women’s issues in particular countries, and at the same time may have contributed to the neoliberalization of the state in particular countries.
There is also an opportunity for students to explore how this conference contributed to formulate a human rights agenda around women’s rights as an advocacy strategy in the international community (“women’s rights are human rights” slogan) and its concrete impact at the national/local level. One activity could include the analysis of the final document resulting from the conference known as the “Beijing Declaration,” paired with any past or current global initiative, e.g. human trafficking, poverty, climate change.