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Good News! Literacy Rate for Women in India is Rising

The women of India are combating low literacy rates with programs designed to help them become more financially self-sufficient.  

Illiteracy and mobility are not mutually exclusive. However, low literacy rates can do a lot of damage by causing social issues such as unemployment, poverty, and child labor, according to a report by the Global Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences.

An Annual Status Education Report depicted that while there is a high number of children enrolled in school, a majority of them do not acquire the foundational skills of reading and writing due to high dropout and low attendance rates. Their rocky beginning in education only further sparks financial issues down the line.

The literacy rate for adult females who completed the 5th grade is 48 percent in India compared to the 92 percent in Nepal.

Being able to read is not just a foundation for education: it is essential for socio-economic progress.

In a 2014 report by the Indian Planning Commission, an estimated 363 million people roughly 29 percent of India’s population were living below the poverty line.

Programs such as Room to Read, READ India, and Kaya Volunteer all serve as mediums for woman empowerment. These organizations help women by providing access to essential instructional lessons for life skills such as reading, writing, and basic arithmetic skills.

“Empowering rural communities is critical to alleviating global poverty”, says Geeta Malhotra, director of READ India.

The educational and vocational programs that READ India offers are facilitated through community libraries and resource centers. 25 centers are currently located in 9 states, including Delhi and Manipur.

Each resource center has between 2,000 to 3,000 books in the language of its region and also provides women with the opportunity to learn other life skills such as tailoring, knitting, teaching, carpentry, weaving, and caregiving.

Since 2006, the literacy rate for women in India has gone up by 37 percent, placing them at roughly a 63 percent literacy rate in comparison to the men’s rate of 81 percent.

The mission of these programs isn’t just about providing access to resources like books and training courses. It’s about helping women find within themselves the confidence to believe they can change their life through perseverance.

“There was a time when I did not have money to buy books for my college education, that’s why today I am working towards setting up community libraries,” Malhotra says. “Women empowerment is not a position or possession; it is about creating an image of dignity, self-respect, and values for women.”

Featured Image by Hernán Piñera on Flickr

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