International Literacy Day (8 September): highlights


The 2010 International Literacy Prize awards ceremony, a round table on Literacy and Women’s Empowerment, a public discussion and the launch of a new UNESCO literacy network were the highlights of International Literacy Day celebrations on 8 September at UNESCO Headquarters.

In New York, UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova gave a keynote address at the international conference “Literacy: an essential foundation for development” at the United Nations. The opening address was given by former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush, who is Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade (UNLD).

Globally, 8 September was an occasion to celebrate women’s empowerment through literacy and pay tribute to the women and men who work behind the scenes who help others acquire literacy skills and enter a world of opportunities.

The awards ceremony was followed by the launch of the Knowledge and Innovations Network for Literacy, a virtual workplace where literacy researchers and practitioners can share knowledge and debate literacy topics on online fora. The network is expected to improve advocacy, policy formulation and programme delivery, as well as strengthening North-South and South-South cooperation and partnerships.

The International Literacy Day round table on Literacy and Women’s Empowerment was chaired by Mr. Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education.

The day ended with a round table on literacy entitled ‘Literacy in Action', open the public. It featured contributions from the winners of the 2010 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes.

The International Literacy Prizes were awarded by an international jury to innovative literacy programmes focusing on women’s empowerment through literacy in Germany, Egypt, Nepal, Cape Verde, Malawi and Colombia.  

Some 796 million adults still lack literacy skills. About Two-thirds are women. The International Literacy Day global celebrations will therefore focus on the transformation literacy can bring to women’s lives and those of their families, communities and societies.

Related Links

Video Message from Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General

Press release

UNESCO International Literacy Prize Winners 2010

UNESCO’s work on Literacy   

The United Nations Literacy Decade (2003 - 2012), coordinated by UNESCO

IIEP publications on Literacy

Fact Sheet: UNESCO Institute for Statistics - Septembre 2010