Throughout history, women have played a vital role in shaping and transforming the world of education. They have fought for their right to education and have dedicated their lives to promoting the importance of education for women and children.
For International Women’s Day 2023 we celebrate the many remarkable women who have changed and are changing the course of education for the better.
Today we remember seven women throughout history and in the present day who have recognised the importance of education and fought to ensure it is accessible to all;
Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights. She is best known for her work “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” (1792), in which she argued for the importance of education for women. Wollstonecraft believed that women should have access to the same education as men, and that education was essential for women’s personal growth and the betterment of society as a whole.
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator who developed the Montessori method of education. This method emphasises individualised learning, hands-on activities, and self-directed learning. Montessori believed that children learn best when they are given the freedom to explore and discover on their own. Her method has had a lasting impact on education and is still widely used today.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for women’s education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She gained international attention after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012, for advocating for girls’ education. Malala founded the Malala Fund, which works to provide education to girls around the world. Her courage and dedication to the cause of education have inspired millions of people around the world.
Eleanor Roosevelt was an American political figure, diplomat, and activist. She was also a strong advocate for education, particularly for disadvantaged children. As the chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, she played a significant role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the right to education.
Catherine Beecher was an American educator and advocate for women’s education. She believed that women had a unique role to play in society and that education was the key to unlocking their potential. Beecher founded the Hartford Female Seminary, which was one of the first schools for women in the United States.
Jane Addams was an American social worker, feminist, and activist who was instrumental in the development of the settlement house movement in the United States. She founded Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago that provided education and social services to immigrants and the poor. Addams believed that education was essential for social reform and that women had a critical role to play in promoting education and social justice.
Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmental activist and the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She founded the Green Belt Movement, which promoted environmental conservation and women’s rights through tree planting and education. Maathai believed that education was key to creating a sustainable future, and she worked tirelessly to promote education for girls and women in Kenya.
These are just seven examples of the many women who have played a significant role in shaping the world of education. From advocating for women’s rights to promoting environmental conservation, these women have left lasting positive change that enables our children of the future to access opportunity or further change for the better.