Kim Thacker

Grade 4 Service Learning Project: Women’s Rights Around the World

Women’s and Girls’ Rights Around the World

Grade 4 students chose to focus their school wide service learning project on Women’s Rights around the world. The project branched into multiple dimensions of exploration, action, teaching, and learning.  In this article Kim Thacker, our Religious Studies and Service Learning Teachers explains the project.


We started with a brainstorm of what rights are and realized it is more difficult to define than we thought.  This led to a discussion of different groups of people who have struggles for rights and we decided to include this in the presentation as well. Our Student Teacher Leadership Team (STLT)  looked at how we could practically help with some of the things we had learned about rights.

They decided that collecting items to help with education was a practical response.

We have had a relationship with Achungo School in Kenya for several years and so we asked if there were things they needed.  We discovered that their school, which is primarily for orphans who wouldn’t have a chance for education, is doing so well that they have decided to start a second school in a nearby village.

We were able to give 50 ipads to help with their schools, complementing laptops we gave previously which we learned are still in use and of great help for these students being able to continue on to higher education and have an advantage in getting jobs.

STLT also led an all-school collection for both Achungo School and the areas affected by the Napa fires:
  • books
  • clothes
  • shoes
  • playground balls
  • school supplies
  • gift cards (Napa)
  • bedding (Napa)
  • toiletries (Napa)
  • pet supplies (Napa)

Some research into rights issues led to a vote on what students felt the school should hear about, both in terms of what issues are important and what issues were appropriate to share with younger grades.

Part of the service learning process is reflecting about how to best share what we learn in ways that are both informative and interesting.

Grade 4 decided to create a museum with different exhibits on women’s rights including posters, maps, artifacts, diorama, and opportunities for interactive responses.  Throughout the process we focused on how it would feel to be limited in rights and opportunities, why people may have attitudes they do, and why limitations are such a problem.

Early Marriage

One group was surprised and dismayed to find that many girls, especially in sub-Sharan Africa, are made to get married at early ages.  1 in 7 girls in developing countries are married before the age of 15, 37,000 girls under the age of 18 are married each day.  They created a map looking at early marriage age in different countries, a poster with images of what girls would miss out on if they got married early, and a poster with images and facts about young marriage along with an interactive poster where students could respond to questions about what they would miss if they had to get married early.

They thought a great deal about why this would happen, concluding that it is a problem of attitude that women aren’t expected to get jobs and don’t need to go to school, of power that men may have control, and of money that poor girls are twice as likely to get married early so they can be supported.

Lack of Schooling

Another group looked at education around the world, finding that 15 million girls and 10 million boys never go to school with many more children coming in and out of school.  Currently, 263 million children under 18 are not in school.  They created a skit about a girl challenging the attitude that girls don’t need to school, a poster with facts about education, a map showing areas where education is a problem, and some artifacts with descriptions about why education is important and why girls, especially in poor families, might not be able to afford education both because of time needed to work doing household chores and because of money.

Other Ostracized Groups

During the discussions for this project, students were also interested in other groups who struggled for rights including race, religion, LGBT individuals, people with disabilities, and immigrants.  One group thought about some issues these other groups may face and created a poster, brochure, and some interactive questions.

Pay Gap

One group made a creative diorama about the approximate 25 to 30% pay gap that exists between men and women on average around the world.  After discussion, they decided to portray a man and woman both in business suits representing that they have a similar job, with 70 10 dollar bills on the woman’s side and 10 on the men’s side.

Voting Rights

Another group looked at women’s right to vote and were pleased to learn that all countries who hold elections now allow women to vote, though they were surprised that some of these rights came as late as the 2000s with Saudi Arabia in 2015.  They also created a map showing countries that have had a female leader in the last 50 years and did an interactive activity with voting for candy where they only initially counted male votes and asked students how that made them feel.

Gender Based Marketing

Another focus for discussion during this project was differences in toys, activities, and marketing for different genders.  The final group looked at images of differences in toy aisles and specific products and created a poster showing these differences and asking students to respond with their thoughts.

Over the course of the school year, grades 2-5 will champion a school wide

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