The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly.
Inequality retards not only the advancement of women but the progress of civilization itself.
-“Two Wings of a Bird,” National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
When thinking about what I wanted to teach my two young boys about Women’s History Month, I remembered a metaphor that I was taught as a child, as part of Bahá’í children’s classes: that women and men are like two wings of a bird. Both need to be strong in order for the bird to fly.
We have recently been studying about birds, so it was a natural transition for us to do this simple bird craft to talk more about the need for both “wings” of humanity to be strong.
First I folded a paper plate in half and drew the outline of a bird. We then cut it out, and the boys had fun decorating! (And really, is there a better way to use glitter glue than to dump it on the paper in huge clumps that will probably never dry??)
Their attention span for crafts is relatively short, so I wanted something that could be put together quickly, plus it was easy to fold back one wing and talk about how difficult it would be for the bird to fly like this.
I built on the conversations we had around Martin Luther King Day about racial discrimination to talk about how throughout history, women have been prevented from reaching their full potential because of lack of education and opportunities. I mentioned close friends that are girls. “Wouldn’t it be awful if M couldn’t become a scientist because she wasn’t allowed to go to school? Or what if S never got to write wonderful books because she didn’t even know how to read? Wouldn’t that be terrible for all of us? We’d never have M’s inventions or get to read S’s stories!”
I also asked Monkey to imagine what it would be like if boys were not allowed to go to school. Monkey loves to read, so I asked him to think about what he would do if he was never even taught the alphabet.
“I’d just learn it myself!”
“What if nobody gave you books to study? What if you were punished for trying to learn?”
“I’d just go to the library and check out books myself.”
“What if you couldn’t? What if the library said No Boys Allowed?”
This then evolved into a long conversation about how as a ninja he would sneak into the library, but hopefully he did get the point about how unfair this situation would be!
My hope is to plant a seed about how terrible discrimination is not just for those discriminated against but for all of us, who are denied the contributions that those people could have made to our society.
For more resources on teaching children about Women’s History, see below!