Allow me to start with a statistics-bomb. Here are some shocking female illiteracy rates around the world. Numbers provided by the CIA:
Bhutan, Asia- 61.3%
Burkina Faso, Africa- 78.4%
Chad, Africa- 74.6%
Guinea, Africa- 70%
Mali, Africa- 75.4%
Mozambique, Africa- 57.2%
Niger, Africa- 84.9%
Sierra Leone- 67.4%
South Sudan- 84%
Timor-Leste, Southeast Asia- 47%
Almost three-quarters of the world’s 775 million illiterate adults are found in only ten countries, and of all the illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are women; extremely low literacy rates are concentrated in South and West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The worst out of that list is Afghanistan at a female illiteracy rate of 87%, closely followed by Niger and South Sudan in Africa.
Imagine standing in a room of 100 women, and 87 of them cannot read or write. This is deeply saddening.
Today, I read this article in the New York Times and it sparked my interest. Did you know that in Egypt, there is a non-governmental organization called the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW), which aims to help low-income families headed by women?
Non-governmental… in Egypt!
The subject of the NY Times article is a woman from Egypt, a country with almost half of it’s women illiterate. She is a photographer, and had become involved with ADEW while taking pictures during one of their reading and writing classes.
One part of the article that struck me was a couple of quotes that read,
“Umm el-Saad, who was pregnant when they first met, smiled when Ms. Boushnak asked her how she liked the class. “She said, ‘Oh, my husband is threatening me to keep me at home,’ ” Ms. Boushnak recalled, “and I thought, ‘Oh, this must be one of those stories.’ When Ms. Boushnak returned five months later, her subject, holding her new baby girl, giggled. As it turned out, the woman’s husband had realized that she had learned how to read his text messages.”
Wow. Talk about empowering women. Could you imagine being threatened to stay at home?
Anyway, just a quick reminder that knowing how to read and write is very important, and one of the most fundamental human needs. Also, I know that the United States has its problems, but at least our literacy rate is 99% and all women know how to read and write.
So, today you should feel thankful that you were born in, or grew up in, a country that values literacy.
[Originally published on Wollstonecrafty]