Illiteracy rate for women more than twice as high as men

Kompas – September 9, 2008
Minister for Women’s Empowerment Meutia Farida Hatta Swasono (detik)
Minister for Women’s Empowerment Meutia Farida Hatta Swasono (detik)

Denpasar – In the campaign to eradicate illiteracy, women need special priority because the illiteracy rate among women is more than twice as high as men.

“Those who are illiterate are generally the poor, the powerless and less well off. Clearly this is closely linked with social justice, so the eradication of illiteracy in synergetic terms also requires social solidarity”, said National Education Minister Bambang Sudibyo at the climax of the commemoration of the 43rd International Literacy Day in the Balinese provincial capital of Denpasar on Monday September 8.

According to the National Education Department the total number of illiterate people among the population currently stands at just 10.1 million. This figure has declined drastically by 1.7 million compared with 2007 when it stood at 11.8 million. By late 2009, the target for the number illiterate people among the population in the age group 15 years and above is 7.7 million.

Based on National Education Department data for 2007, the largest number of illiterate people are found in East Java province (3.3 million) followed by Central Java (2.25 million). If seen in terms of percentages however, the largest number of illiterate people found in Papua – 335,868 people or around 24.8 percent of the total population. The smallest number of illiterate people are found in North Sulawesi – 15,589.

Gender disparity

The Minister for Women’s Empowerment, Meutia Farida Hatta Swasono, who was present at the event explained that the high rate of illiteracy among women is linked with the continued existence of gender disparities. In order to overcome this, she is urging that women’s empowerment be prioritised.

According to National Statistic Agency data, the majority of the 81.26 percent of the 6.6 million illiterate women are found in the seven provinces of East Java, Central Java, West Java, South Sulawesi, West Nusa Tenggara, Banten and West Kalimantan.

At the end of the International Literacy Day commemoration, Minister Sudibyo presented a Literacy Award to three governors, eight mayors and 38 regents for achievements in successfully undertaking programs to eradicate illiteracy. The minister also presented an award to the winner of a writing competition on literacy to six educational tutors and six journalists.

Awards were also given to figures and non-formal educational institutions as well as other groups that have played a significant role in social empowerment. (AYS/BEN)

[Translated by James Balowski.]