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Women, Literacy, and Development: An Overview

  • Anna Robinson-Pant
Living reference work entry
Part of the Encyclopedia of Language and Education book series (ELE)

Abstract

Women’s literacy has been seen as the key to development, supported by statistical evidence of the links between literacy rates and health indicators such as fertility rates. Consequently, Governments, NGOs and international agencies have promoted women’s literacy learning as the entry point to a range of development interventions, including agriculture and health. This early approach led literacy providers to focus on women’s reproductive role as mothers, and researchers continued to analyse the impact of women’s literacy on development. The shift from a WID (Women In Development) to GAD (Gender and Development) approach drew attention to literacy as a gendered field and promoted a rights, rather than an instrumental, perspective on women’s literacy. Feminist frameworks of analysis and the ‘ideological’ model of literacy based on a continuum of literacy to orality and recognition of multiple literacies and languages has opened up new research questions and methodologies. Recent ethnographic studies have pointed to the importance of informal learning within communities and challenged the dominant paradigm around ‘schooled’ literacy. Researchers are now taking a gendered lens on the multiple literacy practices and learning in which both women and men engage throughout their lives in the context of social transformation beyond development programmes.

Keywords

Adult literacy Gender and development Women’s literacy Literacy and development Ethnography Language and gender 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education & Lifelong LearningUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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