In 2008, 796 million adults worldwide, 15 years and older, reported not being able to read and write; 64% of them were women. Additionally, 131 million youth worldwide lacked basic reading and writing skills.
To promote awareness and highlight the importance of literacy, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed September 8th International Literacy Day. First celebrated in 1967, International Literacy Day is intended to remind the international community of the status of literacy and adult global learning.
For the 2010 celebration, UNESCO is emphasizing Women’s Literacy. UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova commented, “When a woman is literate she can make choices to dramatically change her life for the better.” Acquiring literacy skills, however, empowers women with a sense of self confidence, give them more control in the household and the ability to operate in wide political life. “Literacy is a first step towards personal freedom and broad prosperity. When women are literate it is all society that gains,” Bokova proclaims. Further, she asks all people to scale up their dedication to women’s literacy.
First Book joins UNESCO in celebrating International Literacy Day. May we all do our best to continue providing people everywhere with access to high-quality books and educational opportunities.
To find out more about International Literacy Day, visit UNESCO at www.unesco.org and the International Reading Association at