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Millennium Development Goals > Promote gender equality and empower women > Quechua woman establishes aid organization for women and girls

Meeting Millennium Development Goals
through local languages

Goal 3. Promote gender equality and empower women
SIL views local language development as essential to achieve this goal.

Nearly two-thirds of the world's 875 million illiterate people are women. In ethnolinguistic communities, boys are often encouraged to interact with others in languages of wider communication. Girls, however, are typically expected to stay close to home where the local language is often the only language used. Research shows that girls and women who are educated in languages familiar to them stay in school longer and achieve better results than those who do not get mother-tongue instruction.

Quechua woman establishes aid organization for women and girls

Quechua alphabet and word charts help students grasp literacy concepts even when used in Spanish-taught classrooms. Quechua alphabet and word charts help students grasp literacy concepts even when used in Spanish-taught classrooms.

Margarita knows the impact of losing her mother tongue and her cultural identity. Growing up in a small Andean town in central Peru, she first learned to speak the Quechua of her parents and grandparents. But when she started attending school, her family insisted she speak only Spanish, even at home. With difficulty, she learned enough Spanish to complete five years of school before she had to quit to care for her siblings and the family's sheep. Undaunted, Margarita studied at night to finish her primary education and beyond, ultimately earning a university degree in psychology. Using that knowledge and her skills, Margarita founded a volunteer organization that provides social, psychological and educational help to hundreds of displaced and sometimes abused Quechua women and children—using the language they understand best.

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