Gendered Illiteracy in Developing Countries

Photo curtesy Huffington Post

Today was our last meeting for the year and what way to conclude! Some of us almost did not make it to Yarden’s presentation but so many of us did and we hope that our inputs and comments are helpful. “Literacy” is such a slogan with in the development world that often and as is the case with immigrants in Israel as Yarden citied, it is taken in absolute terms without context. This is especially so among women who traverse boundaries (often not on their own volition) having never been exposed to the written word or signage to be “taught” how to read and write.

Examples were drawn from organizations like the “Madre” that used farming as a method to unite women in Africa in a relevant and meaningful way. Examples were suggested from Afghanistan, Indonesia and India about what would work for women and what is relevant to their lives. Oral traditions, daily life cycle charts and coffee breaks provide opportunities for women in remote rural villages possibilities for learning.

As a group we restructured Yarden’s forthcoming book! Some readable, simply constructed sentences were suggested for the target audience. Some of the tools I had wanted to share are as follows: Participatory Research Appraisal (PRA). You could also read Robert Chambers’ book on the same. Having used many of these in different situations with intelligent community members these are empowering ways to learn and teach.

On the other side of the spectrum I had mentioned Nancy Hafkin who spoke about digital divide and that women lagged behind in technology in her piece on ICT work in Africa. I have her book and will give it to Yarden just so you have the other perspective which might just go against what you are trying to propose. Find any of us if you need to talk more on this, Yarden and thank you for sharing your work-in-progress!

(Work-in-progress presentation by Yarden Fanta-Vagenshtein, meeting summary by Rajashree Ghosh)