Literacy rates are rising, but women and girls continue to lag behind
According to new data released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), literacy rates for adults and youth continue to rise. Young women aged 15-24 are making the strongest gains, but still lag behind young men. In 2011, 87% of female youth had basic literacy skills, compared to 92% of males. Overall, more than half of countries with data have youth literacy rates of 95% or higher*.
Despite these gains, 774 million adults (15 years and older) still cannot read or write – two-thirds of them (493 million) are women. Among youth, 123 million are illiterate of which 76 million are female. Even though the size of the global illiterate population is shrinking, the female proportion has remained virtually steady at 63% to 64%.
Explore the data
To illustrate the disparities in adult and youth literacy rates, the UIS has created an interactive map** with statistics from 150 countries and territories, including literacy rates by sex and the correlation with national wealth.
- Press release and interactive map (UNESCO Institute for Statistics website)
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