Women and Literacy
Development agencies have found two predictable indicators for longevity among women in developing countries: accessible clean water and literacy skills. Another well-known fact is that in some societies, discrimination exists in educational opportunities based on a gender bias.
The consequences become evident in the numbers. For example, in one African country alone the literacy rate among men is 26% while among women it is 11%. Other statistics further highlight that evidence: of the 1 billion illiterates in the world, two thirds of them are women!
Another consequence of illiteracy is the pressure put upon the population dynamics because of family size. Literate women average 2 children per family while illiterate women give birth to 68 children.
Literacy then, especially in a language a woman understands, ought to make a difference in her life and consequently in the life of her family.
Note the following information supportive to this issue:
- educated women are more likely to use health clinics and return to the clinic if their children's health does not improve.
- educated women tend to begin their families at a later age and have fewer, healthier children.
- a 1% rise in women's literacy is 3 times more likely to reduce deaths in children than a 1% rise in the number of doctors. (Based upon a United Nations study of 46 countries.)
- for women, 4 to 6 years of education led to a 20% drop in infant deaths (Based on the same UN study mentioned above.)
- women with more education generally have better personal health and nutrition.
- the families of women with some education tend to have better housing, clothing, income, water, and sanitation.