Human Rights at Risk
Longstanding cultural traditions, political upheaval, and scarce resources deny some children—often girls—the chance to learn. As they grow up and become adults, they may struggle to earn a living and feed their families. They may also be abused, exploited, or deprived of even the most basic human rights.
In South and West Asia, only one in two women can read or write, compared to seven out of 10 men.1
Without the ability to read or write their names, these women are unable to understand and take advantage of local protective laws, such as their rights to education, property ownership, divorce, and employment. Explore our global literacy solutions.
Extreme Global Poverty
With more than 1.4 billion people around the world living on less than $1.25 a day, adults in developing countries desperately need to earn income for their families and communities.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, 47.5 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day. 2
But millions lack the literacy skills needed to lift themselves out of poverty.
But when millions lack the ability to read or write, they are unable to attain the self-sufficiency they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Microloan resources that could help them start businesses require basic math, reading, and writing skills to keep records and grow their businesses. Learn about our literacy and self-reliance initiatives.
Deadly Health Threats
Lack of education is one of our most pressing global health challenges. Countries with the lowest rates of literacy also report the highest rates of infant mortality, low life expectancy and poor nutrition. Diseases like AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis threaten the lives of more than a billion people each year.
In the Dominican Republic, one-fourth of the population has no source of clean water. 3
But without health education, many of them don't know how to reduce water contamination.
Although prevention and treatments are available, these interventions don't always reach the outlying rural villages, small towns, and slum neighborhoods where millions of families lack information, awareness, resources, and the literacy skills needed to prevent and treat devastating local diseases.
2 World Bank
3 ProLiteracy International Programs Update