Narrowing The Literacy Divide


This year for International Literacy Day, we are proud to advocate for literacy and education through Sitti Social Enterprise and our partners. Lack of literacy is directly linked to poverty, poor employment opportunities, engaging in high levels of crime and lower life expectancy. Ensuring equal access to education will radically change the course of millions of marginalized peoples. 


The pandemic has been a critical reminder of the importance of literacy. As an integral part of education, literacy is not only about reading and writing, but empowering individuals. By giving them the appropriate tools and skills to communicate effectively, they can build a more sustainable life through social and economic means. But despite progress being made, literacy challenges affect at least 773 million people in the world today who lack basic literacy skills.  Or to put it in perspective, one in five adults is not literate, with two thirds of them being women. 


Sitti Social Enterprise is proud to work with our CBO partner, Hopes for Women in Education, that provides access to education for women. Hopes for Women in Education (Hopes for Women) is a non-profit and volunteer-based NGO that aims to develop more sustainable educational programming for women and girls. Hopes for Women provides higher-education scholarships for underprivileged socio-economically disadvantaged refugee women in Jordan.  In addition to providing full-scholarships including tuition, transportation and academic fees, Hopes for Women works closely with students to train them for post-graduation by offering  workshops, skills training sessions, mentorship and internship placements. 


Under the umbrella of Hopes for Women, Sitti directly supports the artisan training and professional development of female refugee artisans. In 2020, Sitti sustained regular long-term employment for 16 women, including 5 artisans and 3 women in management positions. In addition, Sitti continues to support the development and maintenance of the workspace and shared Hopes-Sitti Women’s Centre in Jerash camp.


The pandemic exposed a new level of poverty, a digital poverty that has isolated so many. We must reevaluate and restructure our outreach to bridge the divide in our currently fractured system. Banaat Connect is a virtual English-Arabic language exchange program initiative that connects female North American University students with women in Jerash camp who are seeking continued education opportunities and English language training support. In partnership with Hopes for Women and a group of generous individual donors, Sitti was able to support the regular employment of 2 refugee women in management positions with Banaat Connect in 2020.


And of course, it would not be International Literacy Day without books. The Hopes for Women Library is a growing resource of 1000+ books for young girls and women to access, housed within the Hopes- Sitti Women’s Centre. In 2020, Sitti supported the regular employment of 1 refugee woman as a librarian. As the library grows, so does its program offerings to the community. Plans for 2022 are already underway for expanded programs and activities open to the community.


“Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” is Number 4 on the list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations. Education and literacy are fundamental markers in securing a better quality of life. It empowers learners of all ages with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to address the interconnected global challenges we are facing, including climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, poverty and inequality. Education is transformative in that it allows us to make informed decisions and collectively contribute towards building a better future for all. Literacy is the first step towards climbing that ladder of progress. 

To learn more about Hopes for Women in Education and our CBO partnerships, please check out our 2020 Impact Report here. 



About the Author: Mariam Tokhy is a Contributing Writer for Sitti Social Enterprise. She is a graduate of York University majoring in English literature and broadcast journalism from Seneca College. She is passionate about various social causes that advocate for the protection of human rights, the environment and wildlife conservation.

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