See Why This Woman's Illiteracy Meant Her Family Couldn't Get Cancer Care

From poison warnings to street signs, the world's illiterate people struggle to make sense of their surroundings.
Jan 21, 2014· 0 MIN READ
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

For much of the developed world, literacy means success. Literacy means confidence and empowerment for boys and girls alike. In the above video, literacy means medical treatment.

In too many places around the world, women never know what they're missing because they've been told from a young age that they won't ever need to know how to read. They're told it's unnecessary for the life of servitude they are intended to lead, bearing children and attending to the needs of their families.

But as Chuna, the woman in the video, proves, being literate means being a stronger woman and having the ability to really take care of your family. Watch what happens when she goes to the hospital seeking help for her mother's cancer, but her illiteracy gets in the way of getting treatment. Don't worry—there's an inspiring aftermath.

Around the world, in people 15 and older, 20 percent of women and 11 percent of men are illiterate, according to the last survey from The World Bank, conducted in 2011. In that year's survey of the same age group, low-income people fare worse: 46 percent of poor women can't read, and nor can 31 percent of impoverished men.

What's the incentive for countries of scarce resources to invest in literacy? Studies have proved that better literacy leads to stronger workforces, which leads to economic productivity.

As Chuna shows, the opportunity that comes with literacy—to be more productive and share knowledge of the written word—can bring joy too.