World Literacy for Girls Editorial

Education is a key part of strategies to improve individuals’ well-being and societies’ economic and social development and yet 600 million women world wide are illiterate. Most of these women are from under developed countries in Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian countries. Developed countries have far better statistics, but they don’t depict the entire picture.

Third world countries have a lot of social problems and cultural differences that lead to the high number of female illiteracy. For example, in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, women are considered second class and don’t have access to education as they desire; they are not even allowed to drive. In India, where the number of child per woman is extremely high, women are expected to stay home. They give birth at a really young age and work as stay at home moms, closing the opportunity to be educated.

In contrast, developed countries like Greece have only 1% difference in gender difference when it comes to literacy. Women are generally treated fairly in developed countries and have access to any service a male has access to. However, developed countries are still not perfect. Female illiteracy in developed countries also depend on socioeconomic background, residential read and migratory status. For example, 14% of females aged 56–65 in France are illiterate as opposed to 4.5% of 18–25 year olds. Also, female illiteracy rate can be as high as 40% among prisoners in France.

Although developing countries have a high concentration of illiterate women, these numbers have shown to decrease over time slowly but surely. For example, Egypt’s female illiteracy rate increases from 20% in 1970 to 63% in 2010. Developed countries have already reached the highest level of HDI and will continue to decrease the number of female illiteracy as they emphasize on gender equality.


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