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Women make up the largest part of the population with no or low literacy skills, and are often marginalized from influence and decision-making. This significantly reduces their ability to develop and reach their full potential, be fully equipped to manage their own health and that of their families, and builds an environment where they find themselves trapped in traditional, dependent, care-giving roles.

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What Women’s Literacy Can Do

Investing in women’s literacy results in very high returns. Literacy can strongly support women’s empowerment and the development of greater equality, benefiting not only individual women, but families, communities, and economies. It plays a transformative role with a positive effect on all development indicators.

Adult education can help break the cycle of intergenerational illiteracy and poverty by giving women the skills they need to be successful.

With literacy, women can define what makes them unique and write their futures.

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Domestic Abuse

99% of all domestic violence cases involve financial abuse. Surveys of survivors reflect that concerns over their ability to provide financially for themselves and their children was one of the top reasons for staying with or returning to an abusive partner.



Of the 2.2 million people currently incarcerated, 714,000 are women. 75% of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. 95% of those incarcerated are reintegrated into our communities. Research shows that inmates who are educated are 43% less likely to return to prison.


Children's Literacy

Children whose mothers have low literacy levels have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out.


English Language Learning

Of the 43 million low literate adults in the U.S., the fastest growing segment are English language learners. About 50% of the 2 million immigrants that come to the U.S. each year lack high school education and proficient English language skills. This severely limits their access to jobs, college, and citizenship, and increases their vulnerability to living in poverty.



Poor reading proficiency translates to a smaller paycheck, especially for women. Recent data show that nearly 30% of adults with household incomes at or below the federal poverty line do not have a high school credential.


Health Literacy

An excess of $230 billion a year in health care costs is linked to low adult literacy. Nearly half of American adults have difficulty understanding and using health information. Lack of understanding impedes adults' abilities to make appropriate health decisions and increases the likelihood that they'll incur higher health costs.

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