Millennium Development Goal 3-To Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
In many parts of the world, even today, women and girls are exposed to the perils of gender discrimination right from the time they are conceived and continue to remain marginalized by a society that relentlessly reinforces gender biases throughout their lives. There is no statistic more telling of this situation than the fact that two-thirds of the illiterates globally are women. Women currently make up 50% of the global population and high rates of female illiteracy are bound to prove disastrous in the long run, severely hampering any effort toward improving human conditions anywhere in the world. Studies that examine a correlation between gender equality and literacy and their collective impact on the progress of human development indicators establish a direct and unequivocal connection between the two.
Women and their families benefit greatly even from the slightest improvement in access to education and healthcare: an extra year of secondary schooling for girls can increase women’s future wages by 10 to 20%; infant and child mortality rates reduce dramatically with improvements in levels of female literacy: a minimum of 6 years of education for women is associated with a 16.0% reduction in under five mortality, and if all women had 12 years of education, under 5 mortality rates would fall sharply by a further 42.9%. Any investment toward improving rates of female literacy is bound to have positive and enduring impact on the overall health, poverty and social security conditions of men, women and children in the world.