Learn Advanced English Vocabulary: Female Heroes & Women’s Issues

Mar 8, 2017 | Advanced Vocabulary

A very special thank you to Aya, Anastacia, and Yulia, three Confident English readers who were brave enough to contribute to this lesson. You are such courageous and inspiring women. I’m SO proud to have you in the Confident English Community!

Happy Confident English Wednesday. Today – March 8 – is also International Women’s Day so we’re celebrating the achievements of women and female heroes.


Today is the perfect day to advance your vocabulary through personal stories & opinions on the topics of women, female heroes, and International Women’s Day. Plus you’ll have the opportunity to practice and share.

I’ve asked 3 Confident English Community readers to share their personal stories so you can grow your vocabulary and be more prepared to speak about issues that are important to you. I have 3 beautiful stories for you from Yulia in Russia, Anastacia in Kazakhstan, and Aya in Jordan. I’m so proud of them for being courageous and sharing with you in English.

In the video lesson, I’ll share some key vocabulary with you on this topic as well as the history of this day and how we will honor it in the United States.

And finally, at the end of the lesson, I want to hear from you! You’ll have an opportunity to immediately practice some of the new words you’ve learned in this lesson and you’ll get the chance to share your own opinions on this topic.

A history of International Women’s Day in English.
Lesson by Annemarie

You likely already know the history of International Women’s Day, but let’s discuss it in English so you can learn some key vocabulary related to women’s issues.

This day is celebrated around the world to honor social, economic, cultural, and political achievements by women as well as to highlight ongoing issues including equality and discrimination.

It started in the early 1900s with women becoming more vocal about inequality and, 1908, women marched in New York City demanding better pay and better working conditions.

Just a few years later, in 1911, this day official became an International Women’s Day with rallies in Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany.

Through the last century, events have expanded globally and the United Nations (UN) has its official 2030 Agenda to encourage women’s equality, rights, and empowerment around the world.

This year, in the United States, there are parades, rallies, conferences, speeches, award ceremonies and much more scheduled all over the country to celebrate women. There is also a national strike called A Day Without Women to raise awareness of the socio-economic value women have, although many still struggle with inequality, job insecurity, and discrimination.

equality [noun]: having the same rights and social status of someone else
discrimination [noun]: unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from others
inequality [noun]: an unfair situation in which some people have more rights or better opportunities than other people
to march [verb]: in this context, to march means to walk with a large group of people who are protesting or supporting something
working conditions [noun]: the situation in which someone works (often used to refer to the number of hours worked per day, vacation time, sick leave, safety in the workplace, etc.)
rally [noun]: a public meeting to support or oppose someone/something
rights [noun]: in this context, rights are something that a person is or should be morally or legally allowed to have, get, or do
empowerment [noun]: the process or outcome of giving power to someone
parade [noun]: a public celebration of a special day or event that usually includes many people and groups moving down a street by marching or riding in cars or on special vehicles (called floats)
strike [noun]: in this context, a strike is a period of time when workers stop work in order to force an employer to agree to their demands
socioeconomic [adjective]: of, relating to, or involving a combination of social and economic factors
job insecurity [noun]: when one’s job is not certain to continue or be successful for a long time

Personal Stories & Opinions on International Women’s Day

And now for the most exciting part of this lesson!!

I’ve asked three Confident English readers to share their own stories and opinions on this topic. Each participant answered 5 questions and they’re courageous enough to share this with you in English! I’m so proud of each of you: Aya, Yulia, and Anastacia.

The best part of this is the diversity in opinions. Read their stories, advance your vocabulary, and then share your own opinions at the end of the lesson!

Aya's Opinions on International Women's Day

Aya from Jordan

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day is a chance to focus greater attention on gender equality and tell women that they deserve to take the chance in creating our world.

How do you celebrate it or how do people in your country celebrate it?

I live in Jordan where Queen Rania does a great job in women’s rights. One of her quotes that I really appreciate is, “If you educate a woman, you educate a family, if you educate a girl, you educate the future.” – Queen Rania of Jordan

And also the WHO Jordan holds a meeting to discuss and promote gender equality and female empowerment each year on March 8.

Why do you think it’s important that we recognize women and women’s issues?

Because for me as a girl at the beginning of the road of my career, I see that men often gravitate toward sponsoring other men at the work and since there are already a reduced number of women in leadership roles it’s not possible for junior women to get enough support unless men jump to it.

We need to remember women for own their accomplishment-  it’s not luck or someone else did it.


If there is 1 women’s issue you care about the most, what is it and why is it important to you?

Women’s education.

In my county, there is a big number of girls who leave school to get married and a big number of girls who do not take education in a serious way.  They believe that marriage is the ultimate life’s goal when there’s a lot to look forward to.


Do you have a female hero? Who is she and why is she important to you?

Yes, I know one female hero who fights strongly for her daughters to get the right education and gave them enough support to be independent and lovable for their success.

She left her education because of the custom and tradition of her family, but never gave up, she got her chance in creating our world through her daughters.

This woman is my mom. (She gave us her life.)

All the respect to each woman in the world who fights strongly for her rights and not accept less than what she deserves. I wish my mom could have done this.

WHO [noun]: this is an acronym that stands for the World Health Organization

gravitate [verb]: to move or tend to move to or toward someone or something; to be attracted to or toward something or someone

sponsor [verb]: someone who takes the responsibility for someone or something; someone who guides or mentors someone else

junior [adjective]: used to describe a person who is younger or in lower rank than another person

custom [noun]: an action or way of behaving that is usual and traditional among the people in a particular group or place

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

When I think about this day, I remember when I was a kid. In a day care, we did postcards to our mums. So this holiday is associated with my childhood and love to my super-duper mum.

How do you celebrate it or how do people in your country celebrate it?

In a nutshell, I do not celebrate International Women’s Day a lot because I believe we should respect and love women every single day, not just one day a year. Every day should be special.

Well, I usually call or visit my family members. I give them chocolate, fruit, and money as a gift. And I get the same from them. Personally, I don’t like going to restaurants because it always becomes like a binge-eating. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating healthy food, but on holidays it gets out of control.  In my case, it relates to all the holidays.

Why do you think it’s important that we recognize women and women’s issues?

It’s a great question. It is important that we recognize women and women’s issues because we women deserve it. We know that mostly men rule our world. I think women should have the same rights as men.

In post-Soviet countries, many people think that feminism is a movement against men. Being honest, I used to think like that, too. But feminism is a movement that women and men should be equal. I agree with it. Women should be heard when they are talking.


If there is 1 women’s issue you care about the most, what is it and why is it important to you?

One of the women’s issues that I care about the most is emotional and physical harassment. It is important to me because when I go out, I don’t want someone to stare at me or make any nasty comments about the way I look. I don’t want to be treated like a piece of meat. I mean like a sexual object. I don’t want any girl to feel like that.


Do you have a female hero? Who is she and why is she important to you?

Yes, I do. I have a lot of female heroes. Well, my number one female hero is my mum. But I’d love to tell you about my other female hero. She is Emily Skye. She is a fitness model. She used to be skinny and not confident in herself. After working out, she gained muscles and become very confident in herself.  For me, she is drop-dead gorgeous.


day care [noun]: a place, program, or organization that takes care of children or sick adults during the day usually while their family members are at work

super-duper [adjective]: extremely good, powerful, large, etc.; very super; marvelous orcolossal.

in a nutshell: an idiomatic expression that means to summarize something very briefly

binge [verb]: to eat, drink, etc., too much in a short period of time

to rule [verb]: to have control and power over a country, area, group, etc.; to have great influence over someone/something

harassment [noun]: the act of annoying or bothering (someone) in a constant or repeated way

nasty [adjective]: indecent and offensive; unpleasant and unkind

piece of meat: in this context the expression is idiomatic and refers to the negative feeling one might have of being viewed only as a sexual object

drop-dead gorgeous [slang]: someone who is very attractive or beautiful

Yulia from Russia

Yulia from Russia

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I have only one reason why I like this day – in Russia, we have a public holiday. Of course, I know about the history of the day. However, when I see men who buy mandatory flowers, I wonder if they will still be a gentleman tomorrow? Will they tell me something nice in a week not because it’s a holiday, but just because I am a woman? In the last years, this day has become a different meaning for me and I do not like it. Because I know many great, confident, smart, beautiful women. But, much less the same man.

How do you celebrate it or how do people in your country celebrate it?

Usually, I spend the day with family – I don’t like it, but it is a tradition and it is important for my mom and grandma. If I were free, I would use it just for an additional weekend. However, most people in Russia celebrate it at home or go out. Men give flowers or other gifts to women. Also, we have a tradition to celebrate the day at offices the day before with some cakes, flowers, tea or alcohol.

Why do you think it’s important that we recognize women and women’s issues?

I like that I have equal rights with men. Anyway, in my mind, man – is a person who can do more than I can. He can protect me, can help me, and can provide security. It does not make me weak or worse, we are just different and it is a reason we need each other. In addition, I want to give an example of women’s issue and how we can fix it.

Do we have a gender problem in science? My students, future science communicators, told me about statistics. In Russia, we have about equal numbers of women and men in the science field and the number of people who have their Ph.D. and habilitation (we have 2 degrees in science). However, in social media and traditional media, we can hear about that science is too hard for women. Do we have this problem, here? No. We have a problem with information, with public opinion, with us. I know a lot of women who have very good careers in science, family and are still women. I know a lot of men who don’t.

Also in science (not only in Russia, it is an international thing), there are special competitions for women, in programming for example. Does it mean that women are not so good in this field like men? I can understand such separate competitions in sports – of course, we have different bodies and physical abilities of origin. However, in science, in technology – hey men, do you still think that your brains are bigger? Or work differently? Yes, we have some differences because of hormones and other biological things. However, really all of them have not some serious significant differences.


If there is 1 women’s issue you care about the most, what is it and why is it important to you?

Feminism. I think that it is a way to mentally parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction that involves only females. In other words, they don’t need a male for giving a birth. Many species of animals can do it and as a result, we have natural cloning (do you remember Dolly the sheep?). I do not want it happening with humans or with women thinking they can live completely without men (mental parthenogenesis). Now we don’t like living in a man’s world. Are you sure that a woman’s will be much better?


Do you have a female hero? Who is she and why is she important to you?

Recently I asked my friend – she is psychotherapist – if she knows some outstanding woman who is between 40 and 50, hasn’t family, has a good career, is successful and happy in her solo life. I asked her because all of that is about me. I want to have a family, but also I think it may not occur and I need some role model for that case.

And she answered me: “If somebody else asked me about it, I would say about you”. I was surprised because I am not a hero of mine absolutely and I’m still looking for her.

public holiday [noun]: a holiday when government offices, banks, schools, and most businesses are closed

mandatory [adjective]: required by rule or by law

to go out [phrasal verb]: often used to express going to a restaurant or bar

habilitation degree [noun]: the qualification to conduct self-contained university teaching and is the key for access to a professorship (necessary in some countries around the world)

field [noun]: in this context, field refers to an area of work, study, etc.

 parthenogenesis [noun]: reproduction without sex; development of an egg without fertilization 

clone [noun]: a plant or animal that is grown from one cell of its parent and that has exactly the same genes as its parent

role model [noun]: someone who another person admires and tries to be like; mentor

I’d love to hear from you. Use this opportunity to practice some new words you’ve learned in this lesson and to share your own opinion.

Consider these questions and share in the comments below:

  1. Do you agree that we should celebrate International Women’s Day? Why or why not?
  2. Do you have an issue that you care most about? What is it?
  3. And who is your female hero?

Thank you so much for joining me in this special lesson and, once again, a HUGE thank you to Aya, Anastacia, and Yulia!!

Have a great week!

~ Annemarie

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