International Womens Day

by Barbara Isaacs, Chief Education Officer

International Womens Day is annually held on  8 March  to celebrate womens achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Womens Rights and International Peace.

This day gives us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Maria Montessori who campaigned for womens rights in the early 1900s and was aware of families needs for secure care for their children while they are at work.    I wonder how many are aware that in her inaugural speech on the occasion of the second childrens house in 1907  Montessori stated:

“Working mothers may safely leave their little children in the Childrens House, which is exclusively reserved for those who are not yet old enough for school. This is a great boon to them since it frees their minds of a heavy burden.   But even this help demands goodwill on their part in return.   This is explicitly mentioned in the rules posted in the buildings:  ‘Mothers must send their children clean to the Childrens House and assist the Directress in her work of education.’ “

It was also the condition of employment of the Montessori teacherthe Directressto be an example to the inhabitants of the buildings à ¢Ã¢ €š ¬ ¦ she is strictly obliged to live in the tenement and thus be in close contact with the families of all her pupils.

Montessori continued to explain that The parents know that the Childrens House belongs to them and is supported by the rent they pay.   They can go there at any hour of the day to watch, to admire, or to meditate.   It is a constant stimulus to reflection and a source of evident blessing for themselves and their children.

More than a hundred years on, the Montessori community is still campaigning for universal high quality early years provision for children and their families and  shows similar concerns for the well-being of children.   We salute the legacy of Maria Montessori as we continue to fight for the rights and entitlements of all children.