Female Literacy: Educating Girls in Poverty

Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (a.k.a. World Poverty Day).

When it comes to extreme poverty, many studies have shown that education is one of the best investments for helping release children from its hope-crushing grip. And educating girls — female literacy — creates ripples that extend for generations.

Female Literacy Infographic Large

23 Comments |Add a comment

  1. J. Joshua Kono March 6, 2016

    I am a sponsor of 2 little children from Nicaragua through Compassion and both of them are girls and they both come from single Mom’s homes.
    They were carefully selected because I was specifically looking for children coming from such family backgrounds for sponsorship.
    Having come from a single-parent home myself, I would imagine
    loneliness, lack of love and affection, sense of inferiority or prejudice they may suffer today or in days to come, and they are constantly reminded that they are a little different from all other children in many ways.
    Perhaps, their Moms, too, might have suffered from these issues when they were small and certainly these girls, too, if left alone.
    In my letters to them, I always tell them how precious they are in God’s eyes and how much I love them like my own daughters.
    God has wonderful plans for them and they can serve Him better if they are better educated.
    I also encourage them to dream even the things that seem impossible and to remain true to their ideals, because someday they will come true.
    Having witnessed how my mother had struggled as a single Mom to take care of me and having learned that she, too, came from a single Mom’s home, I will say 120% YES! to education for girls and women.
    To girls, education is not only the way out of poverty and dependence, it is the weapon with which they can defend themselves against injustice and, and it is also the means by which they can possess self-esteem, virtues and godliness.
    It is a mandate to all who call themselves Christians to speak and act on behalf of the poor and weak whose voices have always been silenced in the name of political interest, free trade or mere inconvenience, because our LORD God is pathologically obsessed with the rights of the widows and orphans.

  2. Zanetta Horn February 21, 2016

    This post is powerful. The combined statistics and information about girls and education spoke volumes. As educators we are focused on education within our school/ school district and often don’t take the time to think about kids and education in other parts of the world. Education is empowering. The post shows that with a few more years of education, girls are less likely to marry early and have babies early in life. This will help the girl make more informed decisions about life, her health and educating her own children, thus breaking the cycle. The post also shows that a few more years of education will help with the amount of money she might earn. The money that she earns is more likely to be reinvested into her family helping to reduce poverty and the need for government assistance if it exists. The statistics about AIDS are powerful and will help out the entire world. HIV and AIDS are reduced by 50% for students receiving only a primary education. This would prevent over 700,000 HIV cases per year. WOW. I often wondered why Oprah Winfrey would go to Africa and build a school overseas, when we have schools in need of help here in the US. Now I know why.

  3. Joyce February 20, 2016

    I had never heard some of these numbers before. This graphic is really a great educational tool and showed be shown more. I think that sometimes we in the United States fail to think outside of our own city, state, or country and see what education is like for others around the world. All of the facts show what impact you can have when you educate women. The one statement that really stood out to me was that “one year of schooling increases a girl’s individual earning power by 10 to 20 %”. To me that is an amazing number about should shut down any arguments that anyone would say about educating women. Another statement that I thought was important was how women invest their income into their families. I have always read that educating women is better for them families because of this. A women brings so much to a family without the education factor, but with it it just shows how incredible it can be to a family unit. I have always thought that women can do so much more when they are educated and this graphic really tells the story of why it is so important.

  4. Lisa Seeley February 19, 2016

    Thank you for the heart of compassion your organization has for children! One can certainly consider giving to promote female literacy, especially for girls in poverty, as an investment. An investment like this has potential for lasting effects for generations to come. Education is really something that many Americans take for granted. My family has been doing mission work in Haiti since I was 3 years old. Most children there want more than anything to go to school. However, that is a luxury not many can afford. Most parents can’t pay to send their children to school and those that do face other challenges such as transportation. Right now I have a Haitian friend who had to pull his kids out of school because he couldn’t afford it. That just breaks my heart. As a teacher, it is almost maddening to have students complain about going to school. One of my most favorite reading workshops that I teach focuses on child labor and poverty around the world. Most of my students end up realizing just how fortunate they are to receive a free, quality education. Thank you for being part of awareness and part of the solution! Literacy is one of our most potent weapons to fight off poverty!
    On a side note…I found the data concerning how women and men reinvested their income back into their families to be hilariously accurate, even though I’m sure some may perceive it as stereotypical. 🙂

  5. Courtney Callicutt February 19, 2016

    This infographic truly touched me. It’s so easy as an American woman to bemoan how “difficult” life can be stateside. We constantly complain about having to pay for birth control, not receiving equal compensation in comparison to our male counterparts, and struggling through unpaid maternity leaves. This infographic proves that there are bigger fish to fry in the world of equality! The statistics available on this infographic are staggering…education and literacy literally save lives! Not only do the statistics show a significant drop in the cases of HIV/AIDS {a reduction of 50% for children who complete a primary education!}, but instances of young girls becoming brides also drops. Each year I sponsor a Zambezi Schoolbook Drive along with my local chapter of the Pilot Club and I cannot wait to use this infographic in my “pitch” for the book drive. Many of these statistics cite only a simple, primary education and I’d love to see the statistics of how a secondary and post-secondary education can change a girl’s life. I am so thankful that I had a right to a free and appropriate education. It’s staggering what a difference literacy can make.

  6. Megan Davis February 18, 2016

    I am a teacher, and I have never seen statistics relating to these before. I was not aware of the impact an education in general (not paying attention to quality or type) could have on the life of a girl. It seems common sense that female education is more likely to promote success within the family, as the mother often makes the most decisions and spends the most time with the children. If the mother is education, she will hold the expectation that her children will also be educated and successful. I believe that an understanding of the impact an education can have on the lives of individuals and their children in the future, could lead to much more success with education for our younger generations. I feel as if we need to make a better effort to inform families of the importance of education to break the cycle of poverty, so that they support their children and do everything necessary to help them obtain an education successfully.

  7. Takeyra D February 18, 2016

    This was a very informative info graphic illustration. The picture said a mouth full in few words, which is what, caught my attention. The information shown surprising was not new information to me. I was a little shocked by the exact statistic, buy not at all surprised. Educating females in poverty is a very touchy subject because it is still very true today. Females who are living in poverty are not held at a high standard to succeed. Statics have shown that poverty stricken females are most likely to take on the woman of the house role to help support their family or get married at a young age. Females living on poverty don’t really have a say in many things such as education, their body, money and so much more. It saddens me to know that females are deprived their voice because of their gender and education. I don’t really know what it would take for females in poverty to wake up and realize that they are capable and worth something so they can make a difference. In my opinion I think that some females has been literally brain washed to think that they are supposed to be oppressed by the opposite gender, but that’s my opinion I think that all females should be given the same opportunity no matter what their background is.

  8. Keri Ball February 17, 2016

    The statistics are alarming. The data above reflects similar findings from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics that represent international literacy data. Stats form 2012 reveal that Africa in particular has concerning literacy rates overall when compared to other countries around the world. For females their literacy rates fluctuate to nearly half of the countries females only attaining up to 69% literacy and some parts including Kenya and Uganda as mentioned in the caption above only reaching a literacy rate less than 50%. This is in sharp contrast to other countries and even males in Africa form the same regions. Data is actually pointing to a decline in literacy for many areas in Africa. Overall globally it showed that 87% of female youth had basic literacy skills as compared to 92% of males globally. A closer examination of the data reveals that the areas with lower literacy rates are also areas of high poverty. I thought this was interesting information that confirms what this blog post uncovers. Despite gains in, literacy rates around the world overall there are still 774 million adults that can’t read and two-thirds of them, 493 million, are women. Among youth, 123 million are illiterate and 76 million of those are female.
    See more at: http://www.uis.unesco.org/literacy/pages/data-release-map-2013.aspx#sthash.c6O5oEYv.dpuf

  9. April Brown February 17, 2016

    Prior to viewing this blog post, I had never thought about literacy in terms of how it effects males and females. However, the information provided in the graphic in this post is an eye opener to me as both an educator and mother. It also drives home how important literacy is in the lives of individuals. Although the information in this post is geared towards drawing attention to females who live in poverty and how education affects them, I think it is important to keep in mind that all children, whether male or female, are affected by poverty and lack of education. Like the post says, “Studies—lots of them—have shown that education is one of the best investments to make for children who live in poverty.” Because of the ever changing world in which we live and the demands of this ever changing world, it is important for families and children living in poverty to understand why education is so important. It is important for them to understand that the choices they make in regards to education will have an effect on all future decisions. However, on the other side of that coin, I think it is important for the educators working with families and children living in poverty to understand what obstacles that these families and children are facing on a daily basis in order to be more accommodating to these families and children.

  10. Lequone Banks February 17, 2016

    Being educated sets young girls in a totally different trajectory. The image above was created to quickly provide facts and sting the reader. The facts are real and the sting is real. Sadly, young, impoverished girls are at a major disadvantage than their male counterparts. These girls are expected to take on the role of the woman of the house while they are still children. Preventing them from learning how to read keeps them in the home and procreating. These young girls deserve more. The alarming rate of HIV/AIDS cases is a direct response to young girls not knowing how to advocate for themselves, and not knowing how to read a poster or pamphlet about HIV/AIDS. Yes,it is sad. How long will it take for the ripple to become a wave. I believe there is a need for a tsunami to wash away the ignorance of those who keep the practice going.

  11. Sheena Ware February 16, 2016

    You never really understand the importance of literacy until it is drawn out in black and white, like above. For females, just having primary education decreases the risk of AIDS/HIV by 50%. That means to only stop at 5th grade! What potential there would be if they continued their education? I have heard so many parents complain about their kids having to learn sight words, read so many pages per night, and even complaining about having to read with their children. It’s really sad. Showing information like this really drives home the idea that education (literacy) is the key to success. I understand that not every child is going to love to read, however; having the ability to successful read (independently) will increase their chances of success tremendously.

  12. Megan February 16, 2016

    I love a good infographic! It is such an easy and organized way to present data from studies. As an educator, I think it is so important to be aware of all of the situations children find themselves in all over the world – including those children living in extreme poverty. Every child deserves quality education. “Education is one of the best investments to make for children who live in poverty.” These statistics and facts are hard to read. Only 1 out of 5 girls completes 6th grade – that is only 20% of girls. It makes me curious about that number for males as well. I am not as surprised by the fact that these girls are not completing school but more that they aren’t even making it past 6th grade. The other statistics showing the ripple effect of not completing school are valuable for people to be aware of – marriage statistics and HIV numbers. We need to help families and children living in poverty to fully understand how important schooling is for a child. The amount of schooling, experiences during school, knowledge acquired through school years all effects the future of our children and the future of our world.

  13. Katy February 2, 2016

    The infographic illustrates the importance of high quality education for all children, but most importantly, girls who live in poverty. The cycle of poverty is most likely to be broken through access to education. Furthermore, girls who do achieve success through education are more likely to give back to their family and community, increasing the amount of benefits that education impacts.

  14. Colleen February 22, 2014

    Education is so important to the success of a person. Those who live in poverty should not necessarily be predisposed to continue that pattern. The sad part is that it can be a vicious cycle that goes on and on and generations continue that same pattern. Women especially need to have education under their belt in order to be successful. They need to have that in order for others around them to see them as active members of society.

  15. Jaime February 21, 2014

    This infographic is very informative in showing how important it is to ensure every female is educated. I think many people know that it’s better for a girl to be educated than now. However, it absolutely blows me away that 10,000 girls a DAY get married before 15. I simply couldn’t imagine how a girl that young would be considered ready for marriage. I know that traditions are different in underdeveloped countries, but it’s important to show them that there are choices. I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to support a young girl in Uganda. I began paying for her schooling when she was in what would be third grade in the United States, and she is about to finish her schooling next year. What is such a small amount per month for me makes such a different for this girl there. She would not be able to attend school without my support, and I am so glad that I have the opportunity to do this for her. I hope that we continue to show these women that education and literacy are important.

  16. Kayla February 21, 2014

    Education is one of the most important factors in getting any person out of poverty. This info-graphic is very eye opening, but the facts do not surprise me. They are facts that we do not want to think about and do not want to believe are real, but we all know that these situations exist in our world. The one statistic that jumped out the most to me was that HIV and AIDS rates are reduced by 50% among youth who have completed primary education. One of the main reasons that I feel this is true is that when these girls are attending school, they are making friends who are also in school. They are around people who are there to get the same education as them, and the friends made in school will have better values than those that may be met on the street. Also, in school, these girls are learning how to read. They will now be able to read informational articles and learn about the dangers and consequences of having unprotected sex. Without being in school, they will not be exposed to reading instruction. Schools in my area, and I am sure in all areas of the United States have classes beginning in elementary school to begin exposing students to good touch/ bad touch, and situations that we, as humans, do and do not want to get ourselves in to. It is amazing to think that teachers and other educators can have such an impact on reducing the rate of girls contracting HIV or AIDS.

  17. stacy February 21, 2014

    I was shocked after reviewing the statistics listed on “The Ripple Effect- Educating Girls in Poverty.” One of the most shocking was, “A women who earns an income reinvests 90% of it into her family. A man typically spends 30-40% of his income on his family.” I always assumed that men invested just as much money into their families as women do. I am curious to know what other items men spend their money on other than their families? The second fact that I found interesting was, “More than 10,000 girls a day will get married before they turn 15. But girls with secondary schooling are 6 times less likely to marry before they turn 18.” This fact saddens me. I am aware that it is common for females to get married before they are 18 in other countries, but 10,000 girls a day is a larger number than I expected. As a mother, I would be heartbroken to give away my child at such a young age. In addition to giving her away, knowing that she did not have the education necessary to take care of herself if needed would rip my heart apart. I feel that as a developed country, we should support these women in reaching their goals and encouraging them to fight for independence.

  18. Cierra February 20, 2014

    “Education is one of the best investments to make for children who live in poverty.” This one quote is so powerful. Being educated does provide you with more opportunities to excel. After reading through all of the statistics I can honestly say that I am quite surprised. I knew that education had an impact on one’s life and their success, but I had no clue of the degree. The education level of a female can have a direct or indirect impact on her life to the extent of life or death. The fact about kids avoiding HIV was the biggest attention grabber. By simply receiving a primary education lives can be saved. When people know better, they do better and this statistic supports that theory. Getting married prior to the age of 15 shocks me. I remember being 15 years old and I didn’t know anything. These are children that are forced into adult situations, with adult responsibilities, and have to take on adult roles. They in turn make more poor decisions that worsen their conditions. Knowing that all of this could have been avoided if they were educated motivates me. I want to do my best to encourage and inform young women around me of other options in life that they may not be aware exist.

  19. AWhitley February 20, 2014

    As a parent of a rising middle school girl, I am shocked and dismayed by the information shared. I have always understood that education gives people the best opportunities in life. However, I didn’t really think about the deplorable conditions for females living in poverty. The cycle of poverty is especially devastating for women who might not be able to escape once they become wives and mothers. I think it is especially eye-opening for me to see that women reinvest 90 percent of their income back into their families while men only reinvest up to 40 percent. This inequality is amazing to me. It seems to be another case of a woman’s independence being hampered by being pushed into marriage and motherhood before being ready. The figure of 10,000 women A DAY getting married before they are 15 is horrendous. I just cannot believe that these women want to be married so young. What I believe that they are looking for is stability and a better life. How much better it would be if they were working toward empowering themselves inside a classroom instead of setting up house. The sad fact is that this problem is not only found in developing countries. How many young girls in the US are in a cycle of poverty that only education can break

  20. ac01458 February 20, 2014

    Honestly, I am slightly confused about one thing in particular on the infographic. Is the connection between HIV/AIDS rates connected to education because without the education they are simply unaware or is there something else that connects the two? Regardless, all of the stats are alarming and make me think of myself and the students I see on a daily basis. When thinking about them I can see the impact of education on the number of children a woman has. When comparing the students that I know that have dropped out and those that have stayed in school, the ones that dropped out married and/or began having kids very quickly. As the infographic indicates, the women who have less education and more kids will not be able to provide the same level of education and healthcare as those with higher education and fewer children. I think if we want to improve society and make sure we are all contributing members of society we must focus on education for both boys and girls that live in poverty. They need to learn the skills to improve their lives and see the good results that can occur when they stay focused and obtain higher levels of education.

  21. sc02050 February 19, 2014

    I thought the statistics listed were not only utterly depressing, but completely alarming. 700,000 cases of HIV could be prevents with primary school education. It is hard to read such a statistic when education in the United States is taken for granted. It is amazing just how little is needed to add such vast improvements to everyday life. It was also shocking to see how female independence has such little importance. While I personally vanquish in my independence, girls ten years my junior are married and beginning their families. And because they are not given the education they need, they cannot support their families and the vicious cycle continues. I thought it was so interesting that a girl with 7 or more years of education has two fewer children than those who do not. It goes to show that the girls having children at such young ages, are still children themselves, and cannot make informed decisions. This article proves how important education is, not only to improve the overall well-being, but their quality of life. Literacy is not only important for reading, and school work, it helps to make fuller and richer. It helps in making informed decisions about everything from politics to baking. These are skills that no person should have to live without.

  22. RBridge February 19, 2014

    It is often said that education is the key to success. I honestly could not agree more. An education is the most important investment of a lifetime. I have done some research on children growing up in poverty and learned that the majority of the children will remain in poverty unless they invest more time or years in their education. I know that children cannot help if they grow up in poverty, but they do have the opportunity to outgrow it with a proper education. I do not by any means think that transition is easy, but is possible. I could not believe some of the statistics that this blog provided. The fact that “more than 10,000 girls a day will get married before they turn 15,” completely astounds me. I just wonder how many more doctors, teachers or bankers there could be in the world if even half of those girls were able to finish secondary education. The world can be hard enough for girls without all of these issues against them. If girls could get a full proper education, they would be less likely to continue to live in poverty. I hope that the numbers in the statistics in this blog can change for the better in the near future.

  23. KM07143 February 14, 2014

    I feel that a quality education is the most important tool that we can give kids to help combat poverty. Some of the statistics in the infographic are startling. I think the static, More that 10,000 girls a day will get married before they turn 15 but girls with secondary schooling are 6 times less likely to marry before 18 definitely shows the contrast that an education can make. While I do recognize that some of the statistics focus more on global literacy and poverty, I can see the similarities to the impoverished communities here in the US. For example, I know of a small community in Kentucky where it is not uncommon for students to drop out of school by 9th grade. At lot of those dropouts are young girls who end up pregnant and married at an alarmingly young age. And yet, when I have spoken to the parents and family of the young couple, they will tell me how important they think an education is for their child. However, despite the fact that the community views literacy and education as important, the cycle keeps repeating. I’m not really sure how to help end this cycle, but I do know that literacy is going to be the key.

Add a Comment