» Empowering women through literacy and numeracy skills in Mozambique
08.03.2017 - Education Sector

Empowering women through literacy and numeracy skills in Mozambique

© UNESCO/D. Moussa-Elkadhum

Women’s lives are improving as they build literacy and numeracy skills in Mozambique, with support from the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education.

Globally, two-thirds of the 758 million illiterate adults in the world are women. This proportion has remained steady over the past 20 years, despite declining numbers of illiterate adults.

In Mozambique, where the illiterate rate among women is also high (57.8 per cent), UNESCO is trying to close this gender gap for women in rural communities through adult literacy and education programmes supported by the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girl’s Right to Education.

Since 2015, UNESCO has been working with the Ministry of Education and Human Development of Mozambique in Eráti, Memba and Boane, districts from the Nampula and Maputo provinces, to implement programmes that expand women’s reading and writing, as well as entrepreneurial and financial skills. With this skill set, women are able to break out of poverty and increase opportunities for themselves and their families. Some participants have already initiated income generation activities, such as the production and sale of craft mats.

Active participation of men and community leaders

Ilda Faustino, 38 years old, explained how her life has changed as a direct result of her engagement in the programme: “I feel really happy because now I can read and write, and I am even able to manage easily my own income and bank account”.

An important component of the project’s success has been the extremely active participation of men and community leaders, who play a key role in sensitizing and mobilizing the community’s participation. “Engaging men in women’s educational and economic empowerment is a critical strategy to achieve gender equality,” said Dulce Domingos Mungoi, Programme Officer at the UNESCO Office in Maputo, “We are promoting strategies where communities work side by side with women and girls, to redress gender norms that are hindering progress”.

Community members have expressed a desire to further their study at higher levels. UNESCO will continue to support this lifelong learning initiative that is empowering women and their communities for a better future.

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