Adult Women Literacy Programme
Did you know that women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people? That is a significantly large number. It would be safe to say that the results would be identical if a similar census were carried out in Nigeria.
In looking at the various ways, we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Gombe, particularly:
Goal 5: Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
Goal 10: Reduce inequality
We, at Yarang Llamisi Foundation, realised that women and girls in Gombe can’t be empowered if they are not educated. Without education, there will still be a widening gap between women and men which does not support the attainment of Goal 10.
Unfortunately, literacy for many women in our part of the world is a luxury that they cannot afford. There aren’t that many opportunities to help them pursue adult education. In childhood, male education is often prioritised over female education, which means that a girl grows without those fundamental building blocks and remains at a tremendous disadvantage. So we decided to take action by launching the Second Chance Initiative, a literacy and education program explicitly aimed at women as a disadvantaged group, to equip them with literacy skills through informal and formal adult education with the aim of enriching their lives and helping them develop skills that will benefit them, their families and our entire community.
Why are women literacy and education initiatives so important? We believe, in the Nigerian context, and specifically, what we have experienced in Gombe and Northern Nigeria, that women literacy and education programs are necessary for the following reasons:
Literacy lifts women out of poverty
Studies have shown that a woman has better economic prospects and a greater chance of escaping poverty with just a primary school education. Thus, literacy initiatives and programs create opportunities for women to learn additional skills, be employed, be entrepreneurial and pursue beneficial interests that can support their lives and livelihood.
Literacy reduces infant mortality rates
It is easier for women to know and understand the importance of physical health and adopt safe birthing methods that ensure their children’s lives through acquired literacy skills. They immunise their children because they can understand the value. Studies have shown that infant mortality rates drop remarkably for women who have had primary education and even more for those who complete secondary school. It is estimated that infant mortality decreases 9% for every year of education attained.
Literacy positively impacts economic growth beyond the local community
We are a product of our environment, and an environment that is not enabling, especially towards women empowerment, slowly dies. One of the reported side effects of women literacy is how it yields social and economic benefits for the local community. In Nigeria, we see a current trend where youth migrate from rural communities to search for opportunities in large cities. Women education and literacy initiatives have proved to be instrumental in injecting life back into the community, which positively impacts each generation through raised expectations and increased self-esteem. In addition, improving literacy facilitates innovation and creates businesses and revenue streams that benefit both men and women, ultimately contributing to the community’s growth.
Literacy prevents radicalisation and the support for extremist ideologies and perpetuation of violent acts
Numerous findings on the spread of radicalisation among women have shown that the largest group of women vulnerable to extremism are the poor, the under-educated and the socially excluded. In Nigeria, we have seen this trend with women being used to facilitate the terrorist actions of the Boko Haram sect. However, when women are encouraged to become empowered to be able to generate income they are less susceptible to radicalisation. Therefore, the extra support through literacy programs gives them the confidence to become employable, to be law-abiding citizens; because they know their rights and understand their stake in ensuring a peaceful and unified Nigeria.
There are several other great examples, but these few are the basis for why the Yarang Llamisi Foundation launched the Second Chance Initiative aimed at women adult literacy to complement the ongoing work we are doing at the vocational centre in Zambuk. The privilege of knowing how to read and write, communicating effectively shouldn’t be a privilege at all but a right equally accessed by all. With the Second Chance Initiative, we hope to bridge this gap, and we look forward to sharing with you soon the strides we are making to secure the future for our children by investing in our women today.