My problem with a lot of women’s history month lessons that are built for elementary-aged students is that they tend to highlight women who worked rather than women in history. This sounds divisive but I want students to know that women made history, led revolts, changed nations, fought in wars, and all the other things that men are lauded for in their history books. My fear is that students will have an idea that only modern women did anything worth studying.
Students need to learn about women who led or ruled. Or tried to at least.
Here is a list of women from history that did more than start a business or become famous through the modern media:
- Boudica (Brittonic tribe, warrior queen)
- Hatshepsut (Egypt, Queen)
- Amanitore (Nubia, Kandake)
- Enheduanna (Mesopotamia, world’s known first poet)
- Tomyris (Scythia, Queen)
Boudica fought the invading Roman armies as they expanded their empire to the British Isles. Hatshepsut took power for herself and built a great empire. Amanitore ruled the Nubian empire during their rebuild after an Egyptian conquering. Enheduanna is the world’s first known poet and some of the lines of her poetry still exists. Tomyris defended her people against the advances of Cyrus the Great.
With the exception of Hatshepsut and sometimes Boudica, none of the women are included in history books yet these women deserve attention. Create a mini lesson and celebrate their accomplishments.
400 AD – 1900
- Empress Wu (China, only woman ruler in all of Chinese history)
- Queen Seondeok (Silla, Queen)
- Empress Theodora (Byzantine, wife of Justinian I and savior of the empire)
- Empress Maud (England, argued first female monarch of England)
- The Queens of England
- Joan of Arc (France, warrior)
- Sacajawea (Lemhi Shoshone, guide to Lewis and Clark)
- Queen Nzinga (Ndongo and Matamba, queen)
- Queen Lili’uokalani (Kingdom of Hawaii, last monarch)
Empress Wu usurped the government and declared herself empress. She’s the only woman to rule China. Queen Seondeok was the Queen of Silla (Korea) who was a patron of the sciences. Empress Theodora single-handedly saved the Bynzantine Empire from the brink of collapse. Empress Maud was the rightful heir to the throne of England who had to fight a civil war in order to have her son crowned king. England has several other queens to choose from (Mary I, Elizabeth I, Mary II, Anne, Victoria, and Elizabeth II). Joan of Arc inspired the French army during a low point in the Hundred Years’ War. She was captured and tried for heresy by the enemy, the English. Sacajawea was a slave who was forced by her captor/husband to travel with Lewis and Clark as they explored the newly purchased western lands. Queen Nzinga fought to expel the Portuguese as they expanded their influence in Africa. Queen Lili’uokalani was the last monarch of Hawaii before it was annexed by the United States.
Hopefully you will consider adding women from history rather than focusing on the 20th or 21st centuries. Even if you add just one to your Women’s History Month celebration it is a win for women’s history. Enjoy the month.
Here are my women’s history month resources in my TpT store. Most of these resources are for grades 9 – 12 but maybe you’d find some inspiration if you teach younger students.
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