In the Pampa de los Silvas community of Peru, CHOICE found that 39% of the adult population was illiterate—and among this group, 93% were female. There was a clear disparity in who was learning to read, and who was able to experience the empowerment that literacy brings. Women in the community were missing opportunities to participate in economic endeavors and community leadership because they couldn’t read or write.
Humanitarian projects are not just about building structures and investing in the physical needs of a village; they are about investing in people. CHOICE developed a women’s literacy program and began to implement it in Pampa de los Silvas. Within just one year of beginning the program, women in the area experienced a 73% decrease in illiteracy, gaining the ability to read and write basic phrases and empowering them to have a greater say and influence in their communities. Even more exciting, 90% of the women in the community developed leadership capabilities and a sense of empowerment within that year.
One touching example of the impact of the CHOICE women’s literacy program is Filomena Yarleuq, a 72 year old housewife who learned to read for the first time. Filomena, like many women, was denied the opportunity to study as a child. Now she is a student of the women’s literacy program, and is elated to know how to read and write her name.
Filomena says, “Thanks to the literacy project of CHOICE Humanitarian, today for the first time I managed to write my name, read small texts, and know what my identification document is. This makes me very excited and happy, because I never thought of achieving this, let alone at this old age. I thank CHOICE for caring so much for my community and giving us the opportunity to continue growing as people.”
In addition to the program in Pampa de los Silvas, CHOICE Peru leads, manages, and motivates women’s groups to integrate literacy and promote unity between municipalities, the government, and CHOICE themselves. Education and empowerment of women is essential to sustainable poverty solutions, and must be an integral part of any plan to bring success and gender equity to a community.