Title: Women in Revolution

Grade Level: 9-12

Subjects/CA Standards:  Gender Studies, Social Studies 11.11.3

Overview:  Explores the role of women in conflict and revolution, using the examples of the Nicaraguan and Zapatista revolutions.

Purpose:  Women have played an integral role in the revolutions of both Nicaragua and Southern Mexico.  This lesson addresses gender roles in a time of conflict and shows the power of women's roles as organizers and agents of social change.



  1. To read the stories of twelve women who have taken an active leadership role in the struggle for rights in Southern Mexico, go to http://www.actlab.utexas.edu/~geneve/zapwomen/enter.html
  2. For information on women's roles in the Nicaraguan civil war, go to http://www.womenwarpeace.org/nicaragua/nicaragua.htm

Activities and Procedures:

  1. Ask students to recall names of famous figures in wars and revolutions they have studied.  Are most of the names men?  How many women do they know of who have played integral roles in wars and revolutions?  Discuss.  
  2.  Have students read accounts of women's roles in the Zapatista revolution and in the civil war in Nicaragua.  What roles did women play?
  3. In groups, make a poster showing the difference between women's and men's roles in these struggles, also showing where their roles overlapped or were the same.
  4. Questions:  What roles have women historically played in war and conflict - think of examples from WWI and II, other revolutions?  What are women's main concerns that would cause them to join such struggles?  In what ways were women able to accomplish different goals than men in the examples given?  In what ways can women be more effective or less effective in the struggle - what are the differences between their roles and men's roles?

Tying It Together:

  1. Find other historical examples of women creating change, whether in war or in peaceful struggles.
  2. Choose one figure and report on the woman's role in her struggle, highlighting why she became involved, how she created change, and in what ways her gender affected her work.