Women’s Rights

"I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves."

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797), English writer
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This free ESL lesson plan on women’s rights has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

It is quite amazing that even in the 21st century, more than 100 years after women won the right to vote, it is still necessary to debate the issue of women’s rights. Despite much progress, women still find themselves at a disadvantage in the world of work, are subjected to discrimination in society, and face an increased risk of violence. There are many reasons for this, from centuries of religious indoctrination convincing people that women are not equal to men, to more modern political ideologies that reject the idea of equality. In this ESL lesson plan on women’s rights, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as what women’s rights are, and why they are still necessary on the modern day.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for International Women’s Day, which takes place in March. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

Women Deliver | New Research: 25 years after “Women’s rights are human rights,” progress towards gender equality has stalled in some areas; but opportunity remains

The article looks at the progress made since the UN’s Beijing Declaration in 1995 that sought to advance the rights of women around the world. The article highlights progress such as access to contraception and education, but also notes that there is still more that needs to be done to create a truly equal world. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. The questions for the video are styled in a way similar to an exam like the IELTS.

The video for this class is a called “The Historic Women’s Suffrage March On Washington” by TED Ed which looks at the history of the suffragette movement in the United States which eventually led to the 19th Amendment which guaranteed women’s right to vote.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including the differences between men and women, family roles, and the most important women in history.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with women’s rights such as sexist, feminist and gender pay gap. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about women’s rights. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as whether true equality for women exists, the risks women face, and why women around the world have less access to education.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of women’s rights. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.


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