POV has featured a number of films that are ideal for teaching women’s history. This collection offers educators a range of our most popular accompanying content, from web features to discussion guides, lesson plans and reading lists.

Lesson Plans

*Note: Lesson plans are accompanied by streaming video clips

Religion in Culture & Politics: Women’s Empowerment in Syria

A teacher instructs her student on correct pronunciation of Qur'anic verse. Credit: Itab Azzam.
A teacher instructs her student on correct pronunciation of Qur’anic verse. Credit: Itab Azzam.

The Light in Her Eyes
Grades 9-12, college

Students will watch a series of video clips from The Light in her Eyes showing Muslim women in Syria who are committed to living according to Islam without giving up their autonomy. They will compare the ideas and actions of these women with their personal idea of women’s empowerment. After looking at three quotes from the clips they will explain in an essay what the women in the clips see as the role that religion plays in culture and politics.

The Struggle for Equal Opportunities for Women

A scene from Ella Es el Matador. Credit: Copyright Talcual Films
A scene from Ella Es el Matador. Credit: Copyright Talcual Films

Ella Es el Matador (She is the Matador)
Grades 6-12

This lesson plan is designed to be used with the film Ella Es El Matador (She Is the Matador), which shows the struggles that two women face while trying to succeed in the male-dominated world of bullfighting in Spain. Classrooms can use the lesson plan to spark student interest in those who have fought for equal opportunities for women in other “arenas.”

No More Tears Sister Lesson Plan

Sharika Thiranagama portraying her mother Rajani. Credit: National Film Board of Canada
Sharika Thiranagama portraying her mother Rajani. Credit: National Film Board of Canada

No More Tears Sister
Grades 9-12

No More Tears Sister: An Anatomy of Hope and Betrayal recreates the struggles of human rights activist Dr. Rajani Thiranagama, who remained in her war-torn homeland of Sri Lanka to expose human rights violations and to provide whatever level of stability that she could. The handout for the lesson plan contains excerpts from letters written by Rajani Thiranagama during Operation Liberation, a campaign of carpet-bombing by the Indian government in 1987, and the three-year “reign of terror” that followed. The excerpts are from letters she wrote to her husband, sister, friends and other activists from 1987 through 1989.

Web Features

Video: Gloria Steinem Reflects on Chisholm Legacy

Feminist activist Gloria Steinem recalls the presidential candidacy of Shirley Chisholm and talks about what Chisholm ’72 means to her personally.

Filmmaker Interview: Frieda Lee Mock

The Vietnam War Memorial was one of the most controversial monuments of its time. Thrust in to the eye of the storm was architect-sculptor Maya Lin, whose design for the memorial was chosen when she was a 21-year-old college student. Withstanding bitter attacks, she held her ground with clarity and grace. In this interview recorded in 1996, Mock talks about her portrait of an artist dealing with war and history, and how she feels art has the power to heal.

Timeline: A Brief History of Women’s Team Sports in America

True-Hearted Vixens introduces us to some exceptional women breaking barriers in the world of sports. However, the opportunities offered to these women are the result of the hard work of generations of pioneering women in the United States. Check out this timeline for a brief history of women’s team sports.

Discussion Guides & Reading Lists

Political Representation of Women (Chisholm ’72)

Shirley Chisholm, an outspoken advocate for the rights of women and minorities and an unfaltering critic of the Vietnam War, was shunned by the political establishment. Chisholm ’72 reveals how this passionate and articulate woman gained the support of an unusual crew of political supporters, including blacks, feminists, and young voters. The film and its accompanying materials are a springboard for discussions on civic engagement. The campaign-trail adventures of Chisholm and her supporters provide a revealing portrait of how politics can both inspire and exclude.

» Discussion Guide: Chisholm ’72
» Reading List: Chisholm ’72

Muslim Women’s Movements (The Light in her Eyes)

Shot just before the eruption of Syria’s current uprising, The Light in Her Eyes ventures into a world rarely seen by Westerners, yet echoing other faith-based movements throughout the Arab world. It offers an extraordinary portrait of a leader who challenges the women of her community to live according to Islam, without giving up their autonomy. The discussion guide confronts viewers with questions about the meaning of women’s empowerment within the parameters of different cultures and experiences. The reading list provides a range of perspective on the issues raised by the film.

» Discussion Guide: The Light in Her Eyes
» Reading List: The Light in Her Eyes

Published by

POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.