Friday, October 15, 2010

Educating Women

Female literacy rate important in China's economic rise

Over the years I have visited both China and India numerous times. My first trip to China was in November 1980, where I listened on a radio to the election of Ronald Reagan not far from Tiananmen Square. My initial trip to India took place in 1984.

When asked why China's economy erupted so fast while India's lagged behind, I often suggested (not always tongue-in-check) two reasons: 1) India has a more bureaucratic government structure and more political debate, and 2) China has fewer lawyers.

Now I have a serious answer to the question of why India cannot catch up to China's economy, and the credit goes back to Chairman Mao.

From the July 5, 2010 issue of FORTUNE Magazine comes this pearl of insight: "Even in the darkest days of unreformed communism, China educated its women, with the consequence that it now has an adult female literacy rate of 90%. India's is just 54.5%."

When education is linked to any sort of economic opportunity, there is a method for people to work and earn their way out of poverty.

Want to make a difference in the lives of Aboriginal communities in Australia? Work on creating literacy of girls and young women in these communities.

Want to end hunger and poverty anywhere in the world? Create programs that marry female education and employment opportunities.

Looking to create a program that will make a difference for generations to come? Improving female literacy rates in impoverished communities or nations is undoubtedly one to consider.

What can you, or your company, do in this area today and into the future?