For too many people in developing countries, reading this article is a luxury item, which unfortunately is out of their reach. According to UNESCO, one-fifth of all adults worldwide are still unable to read and write. Two-thirds of them are women; 67.7 million children on earth have no access to education at all.
This year, on 8 September, the world celebrates International Literacy Day to promote literacy as a fundamental human right and to remind us that millions of men, women, and children are still unable to write their name, read a book or make a simple note. For many people in poverty, the ability to read and write is an unattainable goal – one that prevents them from reaching their full potential.
Overcoming illiteracy is more than being able to read a book. As a “tool for personal empowerment”, literacy is a means of social development. Most educational opportunities depend on literacy.
UNESCO notes: “The ability to read and write is at the heart of basic education for all and is essential to eradicate poverty, reduce child deaths, curb population growth, achieve gender equality and sustainable development, peace, and democracy.”
According to the business journal The Economist, 67 percent of all women in Bihar, India, are illiterate. Social microfinance is also reaching in regions such as Bihar with the help of microfinance partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.
This helps people in poverty with microcredit to start a small business and earn their own income. This income then allows them to send their children to schools where they can learn writing and reading and other valuable skills for the future.