SDGs | October 7, 2019

Promoting Gender Equality through Digital Reading


girl reading worldreader mexico

Over the past 50 years, great strides have been made in closing the gender gap.  

But there is still a lot of work to be done. Take a look at some of these numbers:

There are still over half a billion illiterate women in the world, accounting for two thirds of the world’s population of illiterate adults. 

Seventy-seven million young women are unable to read or write a single sentence, let alone decipher a medical prescription or help their children with homework (GPE).

And women continue to be at a connectivity disadvantage, with 197 million fewer women than men owning mobile phones (GSMA, Connected Women).

Unless we all push for greater equality, women will not have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

In our work, we’ve been lucky enough to witness the incredible strength of girls, like Dorice, who have overcome the hardest of circumstances and turned their lives around.

We’re honored to be able to positively impact the lives of millions more girls. And we’re determined to do it right. 

So, as an organization we asked ourselves “how can we use our work to help women and girls read and dramatically accelerate progress towards a more gender-equal world?” 

This led us to creating four gender equality principles to guide our work and everything we do. In this report, learn more about how we’re promoting gender equality.

Here’s a look at Worldreader’s four gender equality principles: 

1. Promote gender equality as a right
We’re promoting gender equality as a right through programmatic work like the Anasoma project in Kenya and Inspire Us in Ghana. These projects leverage libraries, book clubs, and content to foster dialogue around gender equality and women’s empowerment among both men and women.

2. Account for gender equality within the organization
Worldreader accounts for gender equality within the organization through diverse leadership and staffing, and regular culture and climate surveys to gauge organizational perceptions of gender-responsiveness among its staff. Worldreader’s leadership is more than 60% female, with women comprising two thirds of the larger global leadership team.

3. Demonstrate impact
Our work is focused on demonstrating impact through gender-disaggregated data collection and insights.  Inspired by Worldreader’s 2014 collaboration with UNESCO on Reading in the Mobile Era, Worldreader partnered with the University of Washington’s Technology and Social Change Group (TASCHA) to understand the reading behaviors of women and girls reading on our mobile web app and outline the work that needs to be done to reach a more equitable cohort of readers.

3. Value partnerships and collaborations
We’re putting gender equality at the center of our collaboration efforts with communities, stakeholders, and organizations, as well as advocating for greater focus on gender equality amongst our partners and donors.

We know that providing women with easy access to books can transform not just their lives, but entire nations. 

Thanks to supporters like you, we are so very excited to reach more women and girls in the future, so they can live healthier, happier, and more economically productive lives.