06.09.2010 - UNESCO Office in Kabul

Joint forces needed to promote the power of women’s literacy

A female literacy learner in Bamiyan

The importance of “The Power of Women’s Literacy”, the theme of this year’s International Literacy Day, in Afghanistan context, was highlighted by UNESCO and UN-Habitat today in Kabul. Improving Afghanistan’s literacy is a key development goal for the country, which has only 26 per cent literacy among over 15-year-olds.

UNESCO and UN Habitat in a joint press conference today called on the literacy stakeholders in Afghanistan to strengthen the position of women in society by empowering them through literacy skills. They emphasized that in Afghanistan, where only 12 per cent of women and girls above 15 years are literate, more political commitment and community involvement is needed to meet the challenges.

“Literacy is a fundamental human right contributing to the improvement of health conditions, socioeconomic standards and the overall quality of life,” said Mr. Shigeru Aoyagi, UNESCO Kabul Director. “Literacy can also play a crucial role in building and sustaining a peaceful society.”

Mr. Sanjaya Adhikary, Rural Development Advisor for UN-Habitat highlighted the importance of coordination with local people to achieve literacy goals. “We approach local people as our equal partners, not as beneficiary only,” he emphasized. “Taking in the voices and inputs from the community is crucial for the success of our literacy programmes.”

UNESCO’s Enhancement of Literacy in Afghanistan (ELA) programme, funded by the Government of Japan, aims at providing quality literacy education to 600,000 beneficiaries, 60 per cent of them women, in 18 provinces of Afghanistan by 2013. The ELA programme will also provide skills development to some graduates of the 9-month literacy class.

UN-Habitat is implementing the Learning for Community Empowerment Programme (LCEP-2), funded by USAID, which is an integrated approach combining literacy, community banking and the acquisition of productive skills. This will lead to improved livelihoods for more than 250,000 people (60 per cent female) in 20 provinces of Afghanistan.

UNESCO and UN-Habitat programmes give practical support to achieving Afghanistan’s national aim of reducing the illiteracy rate by 50 per cent by 2015.


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