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Home > Literacy > Literacy Data Show persistant gender gap Accueil

 Literacy Data Show persistant gender gap 

Despite significant improvements in literacy rates globally, today there are still 781 million adults and 126 million youths who cannot read or write a simple sentence – two-thirds of whom are women.  These numbers weigh heavily on global efforts to alleviate poverty.


To shed light on the data, the UIS has prepared an electronic atlas illustrating the disparities in literacy among adults, youth and the elderly, disaggregated by sex, as well as an in-depth look at the gender gap that persists between literacy rates for men and women. Country profiles provide quick links to the most relevant indicators.


View the full eAtlas


Young women make the strongest gains, but lag behind young men

Among the youth population, female literacy rates have been rising quickly, equipping young women with the skills needed to fully participate in daily life and find decent work. Nonetheless, three out of five youths lacking basic reading and writing skills are young women. In some countries, youth literacy rates for young women have remained persistently low - the result of continued exclusion from education.




The gender parity index (GPI) shows the ratio of female and male literacy rates. Gender parity is reached with a GPI between 0.97 and 1.03. A GPI below 0.97 indicates gender disparity against women, while a GPI above 1.03 indicates a disparity against men.


Literacy among youth is rising more quickly in countries with growing economies
Data indicate that increased literacy rates correlate with a decrease in the share of the population living in poverty, i.e. on less than $2 per day, particularly among youth. Rising GDP per capita is associated with higher youth literacy rates because children in wealthier societies are more likely to attend school. As the chart below illustrates, the youth literacy rate in Indonesia has increased from 85% to 99% since 1980, in step with a significant increase in GDP per capita.



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