Is the Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?: Raising Awareness for Global Female Literacy

By: Caleigh Joyce

As Winter melts into Spring, I can’t help but think of the positive themes associated with Spring, such as rebirth and regrowth. Perhaps as the season changes, we should take the opportunity to allow the Spring to change our own attitudes into more positive ones as well.

As we examine the world around us, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the negative attitudes and news headlines out there and become depressed from the weight of the problems we see in our society-which can seem insurmountable. I think we sometimes can achieve more, or even just help our own mental health, by trying to have a more positive outlook. Not that we should start ignoring the world’s problems, but rather than just acknowledging these problems, we take the time to recognize the achievements being made towards them, and we take just as much time to raise awareness of the problem as we do to come up with solutions for them.

Global Female Literacy: Problems, achievements and awareness

One topic I’ve been thinking about lately is global female literacy. As a woman and someone who truly enjoys reading as far back as I can remember, this topic is very important to me. Books not only provide access to information, they  allow you to grow as a person and learn about other cultures different from your own-an opportunity that everyone should have.

In many countries, there is a huge disparity in the education levels and literacy rates between men and women. Many countries do not value female education as highly as male education and this is a problem. It is vastly important that everyone is given the opportunity to learn, and to read and write.

I think it’s important to highlight the countries that have high female literacy rates, like the U.S. (99%) or Columbia (94%), or Namibia (84%) ( Many countries have made the necessary improvements by supplying more girls with education over the last several decades, and with female literacy as well.

There is still much work to be done. Many countries still have low female literacy rates. For example, Niger is at only 11% of girls above the age of 15, and Chad is only at 14% ( By highlighting countries that value teaching women to read, I hope we can encourage other countries to make female education more of a priority.

Thinking positive, taking action

We can also take steps ourselves to improve literacy worldwide. We can raise awareness of the importance of literacy, the lack of literacy in many countries, and the disparity between male and female literacy rates. We can encourage girls to go to school, and show women can do other jobs besides those that involve staying in the home. We can also protest child labor and boycott products created through child labor, or we can sponsor a poorer child’s education, as many families cannot afford to send their children to school.

One very cool way women are supporting positive action towards issues like female literacy is by joining in on the #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist movement on social media. This movement was started by pop icon Annie Lenox and just requires posting your picture on social media, using #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist and tagging Annie Lennox and @TheCircleNgo to show your support. Learn more here on Annie Lenox’s website.

As we move into this new season, a positive mental outlook is crucial for both world issues as well as in our personal lives. We’ve all heard the analogy of seeing the glass as being half empty or half full. Either way, we’re right.


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