Causes and effects of illiterate women in the society Author



Causesand effects of illiterate women in the society


Causesand Effects of Illiterate Women in the Society

Literacyand access to basic education are essential for men and women if theyare to take advantage of the many opportunities in life to improvetheir standards of living. In many cases, men fare well in literacythan women and girls. According to a study by the United Nations forEducation, Cultural, and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) conductedin 2010, women make two thirds of the 796 million adult illiteratesin the world. Social stigma, discrimination and the responsibility ofconducting household duties contribute greatly to the high illiteracylevels among women (Robinson-Pant, 2012).

Illiteracycan be defined as the lack of ability to read and write or a state oflack of any or enough education. A mistake in speaking or writing canbe felt as a characteristic of an illiterate person. Omar(2010)defines a literate person as someone who can both read and write withunderstanding, a short simple statement in his/her daily life. Aperson who can only read but not write, or can write but not read isconsidered illiterate.

Factorsthat contribute to high illiteracy levels among women in societyinclude: economic reasons, traditions and religious beliefs. Girlsare seen as not good investment when it comes to education (Omar,2010). The notion is that they will,in future, be married off to another will benefit thefamilythus, their education family they go to. In addition, employmentopportunities for the females are fewer and attract lower salaries.In families where money for education is less, priority is given tothe boy, who in future is expected to provide for his family than thegirl who will be married off (Miller &amp King, 2009). Manysocieties are patriarchal where greater value is place on males. Inthese societies, the place of a woman is at home. Girls concentrateon maintaining the house and learn how to raise a family. Educatingand empowering women is seen as a threat to the men’s sense ofcontrol and superiority. This attitude results in restraint of womento educational opportunities.

Illiteracyamong women in society impedes development efforts by governments toreduce high infant mortality and increase literacy levels of thesociety. Illiterate females bring up illiterate girls who continuethe cycle of early marriages and illiterate children. Female literacyis significant in reducing infant mortality. In Afghanistan, whereonly 15% of the women are literate, more than 25,000 women die duringpregnancy or while giving birth every year (Gilbert, 2010). Thissituation can be averted if the women were well informed in the areaof reproductive health. Literate women will be in a position to seekhealthcare for their children because they are aware of symptoms ofvarious illnesses. Children of illiterate mothers are likely to beilliterate and have low regard for education. This contributes to anilliterate society. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, in 2010stated, “Literatewomen are likely to send their children, especially girls, to school (Street, 2011).”

Inconclusion, the illiteracy levels in females affect negatively on thesociety. This situation can be improved by providing educationopportunities for the female members of the society. While this mayprove difficult to achieve in patriarchal societies emphasis must beput, especially, at the family level. The family is the single unitthat makes up a society. It is where customs and social normspermeate for them to be considered the norms and customs of thesociety. If boys and girls at the family level are given equalopportunities to pursue education without discrimination, then thiswill be a sure way of combating the effects of female illiteracy inthe society.


Robinson-Pant,A. (2012). Women,literacy, and development: Alternative perspectives.New York: Routledge.

Miller,M. &amp King, K.P. (2009). Empowering Women Through Literacy: Viewsfrom Experience. IAP.

Street,B.V. (2011). Literacyand Development: Ethnographic Perspectives.Psychology Press.