News from the UN Women for Peace
Susan Sarandon, Christy Turlington and many more joined the UN Women for Peace on International Women’s Day 2013 in our efforts on behalf of women’s freedom worldwide.
Each year, the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations presents International Literacy Day, an event to update the international community on the status of literacy and show them what should be done next to make illiteracy a thing of the past. Its aim is to encourage UN Member states, academia, and civil society to do more to promote literacy and to provide a forum where different strategies can be discussed and common ground between organizations can be found. In 2013, International Literacy Day focused on finding more effective and creative ways to combat illiteracy at all levels: local, national, and international. The event was organized by the United Nations, but in cooperation with UNESCO and UN Women for Peace.
International Literacy Day featured a host of speakers from fascinating and inspiring projects such as the Millennium Villages Project, Harlem Academy, Infinite Family, WomenOne, the National Education Association, Bridges of Understanding, Eco Boys and Girls, and the Noah’s Ark Foundation.
Literacy is just as pertinent of an issue today as it has been for hundreds of years. The ability to read and write opens countless doors and offers a personal and social empowerment that is hard to beat. Additionally, literacy is one of the most important tools to help individuals realize their potential and also their rights as humans and citizens. Literacy is tied to eradicating poverty, lowering child mortality, reaching gender equality, and ensuring sustainable development, among other things. Literacy is essential for the future to be a place of peace and democracy.
There are many things that must be done to stamp out illiteracy. As of 2009 67.4 million children are out of school entirely or attend it irregularly enough to be gaining little from it, and 793 million adults (two-thirds women) lack the most basic of literacy skills. These numbers are extremely and staggeringly high, and the UN as well as the above-mentioned partner organizations are striving to lower them.
The international literacy goal agreed upon in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals was to lower these numbers significantly by 2015. It is now 2013, and the UN is asking that its Member States renew their commitment to illiteracy and reinvigorate their efforts to eradicate it, in order to reach these goals as planned. The Millennium Development Goals also include the eradication of poverty, reduction of child mortality, promotion of gender equality, ensuring environmental sustainability, combating HIV/AIDS, and improvement of maternal health. All of these are tied to literacy. Without reaching the literacy goal, it will be very difficult to reach the other 7 goals.
Literacy and the lack of equal access to education is an enormous problem, and the UN asks of its Member States, as well as civil society, to continue to “work tirelessly and jointly” to make the future a place where the power to read and write is universal, and illiteracy is nonexistent.