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Is There a Gender Difference in Literacy Acquisition?

Literacy and education in developing countries present several issues, such as:

But which major issues in literacy are different for indigenous peoples? More specifically, are the issues different or more challenging for indigenous women than for indigenous men?

To consider whether literacy and education is different for indigenous women, I reflected upon my own fieldwork in literacy among the Waodani people of Ecuador (1972–1984, 1992–1999). Several issues came to mind in an attempt to answer this question: Was literacy acquisition more difficult or different in some way for the Waodani women?

The differences in time and practical issues are not surprising and would be expected for women of other ethnic groups as well. Additional gender-related issues become more complex and difficult to identify and articulate. While pondering what these might be, it is reassuring to know that most indigenous women do not even think about the differences. Instead, they pro-actively impact the lives of other women, girls…and boys…and…men. They are engaged in solutions affecting the positive direction of their communities and making a difference.

Submitted by Pat Kelley, SIL International Literacy Coordinator