International Women’s Day: Education Fuels Gender Equality

March 8, 2024

Around the world today, women still earn less on average than men, hold fewer positions of power, and are more likely to face discrimination or gender violence.

On International Women’s Day, we want to put these problems in the spotlight to raise awareness and advocate for women’s equality. While these are big problems, there’s a surprisingly easy answer: literacy.

Worldwide, women make up two-thirds of the 763 million adults who lack basic literacy skills. Shrinking that number by increasing women’s access to education would directly combat social inequalities in the form of better work skills and financial independence, social and political participation, and improved self-confidence and self-reliance.

Day in and day out, ProLiteracy works in the US and internationally to educate women, which is one of the foundations to achieving gender equality. And because women are central members to their family’s well-being, greater education for women often creates a ripple effect that leads to increasing the skill levels of other generations.

In our partnership with Lancôme, we’ve worked in multiple countries through the Write Your Future initiative, and we have seen firsthand how building access to education can change the trajectory of a woman’s future.

In San Miguel, Mexico, Evelyn was faced with school closures due to the pandemic. Like her mother years before, she was unable to finish school. Coupled with the feeling that as a woman she would face barriers to becoming an entrepreneur, she shifted her dream of starting her own business to the idea of selling food in the streets.

Then her aunt told her about the Write Your Future program, facilitated by ProLiteracy partner program PLAMAC, to help women access education.

“I had a lot of dreams to study and wanted to finish my high school education but wasn’t sure how to get back into school,” Evelyn said in an interview with PLAMAC. “When PLAMAC shared the information about the Write Your Future program, I immediately enrolled.”

Motivated that she was finally seeing a path forward, Evelyn quickly made progress to achieve her high school degree. Her mother watched as Evelyn gained confidence with education and she, too, was inspired to return to school.

Evelyn became her mother’s tutor and supported her as her mother worked toward finishing high school this past fall.

Now, Evelyn is enrolled at the University of Guanajuato studying international business. With new hope fueled by education and seeing her mother succeed as well, Evelyn no longer believes being a woman stands in the way of achieving her dreams.

“Once I finished high school, my goals changed. I decided I wanted to continue my education and build something bigger with my business idea.”

She wants to create her own coffee brand.

Evelyn’s story is just one. There are millions of women’s stories to be told. By increasing literacy efforts worldwide, we can help build gender equality and write better futures.

Learn more about our international work