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Terrorism Threatens Womens Literacy & Development

Terrorism Threatens Womens Literacy & Development

By Kamala Sarup

On 8 September, every year, we celebrate International Literacy Day. The theme this year is 'Literacy and Sustainable Development.' According to recent estimates, there are approximately 862 million illiterate people in the world. More than 100 million children lack access to education. Nearly two-thirds of whom are girls.

Literacy means the ability to read and write. More schools and better language teachers for more women and children will increase the literacy rate (percentage of people in a total population who are literate). Literacy depends also on the wealth of a country. A country that is rich can afford more and better schools and pay the teachers well. It is hard to imagine a functioning country without literate people. If the citizens cannot read and write, how can they learn anything about development and peace?

Technology and science depend on literate people. We can't provide instructions to build and operate machines and computers and disseminate scientific knowledge without literacy.

Literacy is key to social and economic development of a country. Access to literacy is a basic step towards achieving the general well being of women. Literacy is key to sustainable development. Literacy is hence considered as a major tool in building a developed and peaceful society in the 21st Century.

Women play a key role in the creation of sustainable development. Sustainable development of women through their full participation in education, employment and political and social life is vital for every nation. In Nepal we will have to develop and apply appropriate intervention strategies to meet the diverse needs of young women. The ongoing conflict has undoubtedly had negative impact on women's development. If teacher are not safe at schools while teaching their pupils, or if students are afraid, there can't be "business as usual" in terms of educating millions of women and children in Nepal.

On the other hand, to make sustainable development a reality, women must act differently. Sustainable development of women is important but it requires peace. Sustainable development with peace means respect for the land, women and tolerance. As we know, terrorism and poverty remain pressing problems for rural women.

Socially, there is poverty, displacement and insecurity, psychological effects include depression and disorders.

It is true, women's values and priorities bring a perspective that is valuable to both process and outcome. But because of the violence and terrorism our education system is on the verge of collapse depriving a whole generation of young women of an opportunity to learn to read and write. A major Maoist target has been the school system: keeping it closed. Hundreds of schools remain closed due to the war.

Right to literacy is universal. We must eradicate illiteracy. Every Nepali child and woman should have a chance to live in an independent country. National pride is as acceptable as we are proud of our own children and grand children when they achieve significant progress any field of their choice.


(Kamala Sarup is the editor of

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