Women & Illiteracy in Egypt

One out of every four people in Egypt is illiterate, meaning they do not know how to read or write.  Being illiterate not only makes daily life difficult, it severely limits the amount of control one has over their life.  Illiterate people are often given very laborious jobs, that require little to no education.  The area this affects the most is the rural poor, where often the cycle continues as financial security is more important than education.  Of the illiterate in Egypt, women account for 69% of them and are trapped fulfilling traditional women’s roles.

Currently, about 86% of females aged 15-24 in Egypt are literate.  And while that number has increased over the years, the progress has been slow.  As the population increases at a staggering rate, many literacy programs are having a hard time keeping up with the influx of students.  They would have to teach 1.4 million people to read and write per year to keep up with the population growth, which in the very least is daunting.

The main reason for illiteracy is poverty.  And many illiterate mothers have a tough time encouraging school to their children since they themselves lack education therefore never knew its value.  While education is mandatory, parents are only charged a fine of $1.80 for removing a child from school.  Girls are much more likely to be removed from school to do household duties and also the parents don’t see much of a reason to invest in education because they are likely to marry and move out of the household.

Egypt is faced with a crisis with the rate that the population is growing and illiteracy remaining a problem that is becoming increasingly difficult to fix.  As so often in poverty stricken countries, girls are often the first to be kicked off the path of valuable opportunities.  If a society only views it’s woman as domestic workers than it’s hard to communicate the value of freedom that an education would afford them.  If they aren’t seen in higher paying jobs, they may not understand the benefits of an education.  There are many issues that need to be settled, but at the root of them lies the illiteracy of Egypt’s women.

Women and Illiteracy in Egypt Infographic


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