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Its International Literacy Day and Women still read more than men, this is not good enough


“The best advice I ever got is that knowledge is power and to keep reading” – David Bailey

Today, many people don’t read again, and the embers of this craft are slowing dying. Part of the barriers to the advancement of literacy is a waning reading culture which is invariably detrimental to effective human capital development. Reading has been proven to enhance the capacity for learning and skills acquisition, drive curiosity and encourage imagination.

But the ubiquitousness of affordable, easy-to-use mobile technology is steadily influencing the attitude of individuals towards literacy by expanding the footprints of on-the-go reading.

Reports by UNESCO in partnership with Nokia and Worldreader on a study ‘Reading in the Mobile Era shows that hundreds of thousands of people in countries like Ethiopia, Nigeria and Pakistan are reading on mobile devices.

The study also revealed that 65 % of mobile readers in Africa are men while 35 % are women. However, women tend to spend 11.5 minutes reading while men read 6.5 minutes per session, making women more recurrent readers. These gender gaps clearly state that although men make up a majority of mobile readers, women clearly dominate in terms of both frequencies of app/device use and time spent reading.

More statistical evidence further proves that women read more books than men, use libraries more than men, buy more books than men, and probably write more than men. Different reasons including cultural, societal factors have been cited as being responsible for this disparity, but it is not cogent enough.

Reading and literacy development is critical for both sexes, there is no excuse for mediocrity. We are in an unbelievably competitive era in human existence, which will definitely become more competitive as the volume of people in the global marketplace increases exponentially.

International Literacy Day is celebrated globally with the theme ‘Literacy and skills development’. Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist, while the demands for skills required for work, changing rapidly. This year, ILD explores and highlights integrated approaches that simultaneously can support the development of literacy and skills, to ultimately improve people’s life and work and contribute to equitable and sustainable societies.

Literacy is many things, but it always starts with a basic skill of understanding a string of words which leads to engagement and fluency. Reading indisputably forms the bedrock of earning a higher point of differentiation in this digital dispensation, either through soft or hard skills.


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