International Literacy Day, celebrated each year on September 8th since 1966, is recognized throughout the world as a day to promote the importance of literacy and advance a more literate society. For many people, it’s hard to fully take part in their communities, both socially and economically, if they are illiterate. To address this issue worldwide, the 4th Sustainable Development Goal targets creating equitable access to education, acknowledging that literacy is an integral part of daily life.
Through our mission and programs, FINCA Canada is supporting literacy and financial literacy around the world, especially for women. Read on to learn how.
Advancing Literacy through Women’s Empowerment
With the start of a new school year, we are faced with a renewed appreciation of the importance of education. We are learning just how much students can struggle when they are removed from the classroom. But for many children around the world, this has been their reality for generations. For many, access to schools and technology, and ultimately literacy, are not a guarantee. Those who are most affected by this lack of education are girls.
These 5 staggering facts highlight how women and girls continue to be left behind:
But at FINCA Canada, we are working to change these statistics. We are proud to support women throughout the world who are: building schools in their communities, using expanded income from their FINCA loans to send their daughters to school, and working to continue their own educations.
One example of how FINCA is empowering women to support education is Kerlande Toussaint and her husband who utilized a FINCA loan to start a school in a neglected neighborhood of Gonaives, Haiti. Valuing the importance of their own education, they wanted to provide an opportunity for all Haitians to learn. Starting with kindergarten children, including their own children, they added a new grade each year and now provide quality education for 600 students up to grade 10 as well as scholarships and boarding for some children who would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn. She hopes her students, like herself, will go on to attend university, creating more opportunities for their future.
International Literacy Day and Beyond
Since its founding, FINCA Canada has placed women at the core of its mission. And the support of our donors is instrumental in helping us to reach even more women and girls, especially as we continue working to counter barriers to education for young girls.
But now with the prevalence of COVID-19, women and girls are at risk of falling even further behind—in literacy, as well as other social and economic areas. However, FINCA Canada is working to make sure this doesn’t happen.
For example, in partnership with Global Affairs Canada and the James A. and Donna-Mae Moore Foundation, we are safely providing financial literacy training over the next year for 20,000 women in Haiti. Financial literacy is an important building block for empowering women to provide for themselves and their families and to give them the tools to withstand the impact of COVID-19. In fact, the World Bank found that women in developing countries, like Haiti, who are financially literate and are using multiple financial tools rather than just one or two, are far more likely to be able to endure crises.
In many countries, more than half of FINCA’s clients are women, and with FINCA loans and financial literacy training women can grow their businesses and send their children to school. These women, with their expanded businesses, are creating long-lasting legacies through their children and their education. We cannot wait to see all that our clients and partners are able to achieve by next International Literacy Day!