Guinea: Literacy programme aims to raise women from poverty
05 September 2003

Some 30,000 Guinean women are set to benefit from a three-year literacy campaign launched during celebrations to mark Guinean Women's Day on 27 August.

Minister for Women, Child and Social Welfare Hadja Mariama Aribot launched the campaign to promote culture, literacy and job training for women, Inter Press Service (IPS) reported.

The campaign theme is "Women's Struggle Against Poverty Through Learning How To Read".

Some 62 percent of Guineans, in a population of eight million, are illiterate; of these, 80 percent are women, IPS reported.

Apart from an illiteracy problem at national level, there are disparities between Guinea's four regions - with the lowest illiteracy rate in the Lower Guinea.

"Illiteracy among women is the reason why certain traditional customs, such as female genital mutilation persist. Prostitution and the exploitation of women are often due to ignorance," Aribot said.

"Unfortunately, traditions die hard," she added. "Some people continue to circumcise their daughters. With lengthy educational campaigns, we'll continue to fight against this ancestral practice which predates Islam."

About 2,000 volunteers have been mobilised to help with the new literacy campaign, according to IPS.

The rate of school enrolment for girls had risen from 28 percent in 1989 to 47 percent in 2000, IPS quoted official statistics as saying.

Guinea ranked 159 out of 173 in the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index 2002.

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