About FAO
In Action
Contact us
AMIS Policy Database
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund
Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department (AG)
Agroecology Knowledge Hub
Aquatic Genetic Resources - A valuable and unexplored reserve of biodiversity for food and agriculture
Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific
Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission
Breed Distribution Model
Building the #ZeroHunger Generation
Climate Change
Climate Change old sub
Climate-Smart Agriculture
Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook
Commission de lutte contre le Criquet pèlerin dans la région occidentale
Committee on Agriculture (COAG)
Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
Community of Practice on food loss reduction (CoP)
Conservation Agriculture
Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP)
Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS)
Dryland Forestry
Employment at FAO
Evaluation at FAO
FAO 40th Anniversary
FAO 70th Anniversary
FAO Awards
FAO and the Global Environment Facility (GEF): Partnering for Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment
FAO Capacity Development
FAO-EU Partnership
FAOLEX Database
Members Gateway
FAO-Nobel Laureates for Food Security and Peace
FAO's Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculture
FAO Stories
Family Farming Decade
Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
Food Loss and Waste in Fish Value Chains
Food security and nutrition for all
Forest and Farm Facility
Global Farmer Field School Platform
G77 & China - Rome Chapter
Gateway to poultry production and products
Gateway to dairy production and products
Gender and Land Rights Database
General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)
Geospatial information for sustainable food systems
GIEWS - Global Information and Early Warning System
Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)
Global Feed Safety Platform
Global Forest Resources Assessments
Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model (GLEAM)
Global Partnership for Climate, Fisheries and Aquaculture
Global Perspectives Studies
Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels
Global Soil Partnership
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing
International Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks
Investment Learning Platform (ILP)
International Day of Forests
International Mountain Day
International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
Land & Water
Livestock Systems
Locust Watch in Caucasus and Central Asia
Pastoralist Knowledge Hub
Policy Support and Governance
The Right to Food around the Globe
Investment Centre
Technical Cooperation
Technical Cooperation Programme
Traditional Crops
FAO South-South Cooperation Gateway
Programme Against African Trypanosomosis (PAAT)
Pesticide Registration Toolkit
Reduce Rural Poverty
The Right to Food
Save and Grow
Save food
Small Scale Fisheries Guidelines
The European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD)
State of forests
State of fisheries aquaculture
State of Food Agriculture
Support to Investment
SDG Progress Report
Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable Food Value Chains Knowledge Platform
Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste
Governance of Tenure
TECA - Technologies and Practices for Small Agricultural Producers
The Right to Food Timeline
Urban Food Actions Platform
World Banana Forum
WIEWS - World Information and Early Warning System on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
World Programme for the Census of Agriculture
World Soil Day 2018, December 5th
Zero Hunger Run
Automatic Translation
homenew - under labs.fao.org
Food composition
Food Chain Crisis Management Framework (FCC)
International Mountain Day
International Year of Family Farming
Medium Term Plan and Programme of Work and Budget
Mid-Term Review Synthesis Report
International Year of Pulses 2016
International Year of Quinoa 2013
2015 International Year of Soils
UN coordination
Dimitra News
About Dimitra
Dimitra Clubs
Dimitra Workshops
 -Workshop Reports
Dimitra Publications
Dimitra Database
Resources by Theme

Dimitra Workshops

Rural women, literacy training and communication - Literacy training for rural women as a lever for their and their family's empowerment and for the schooling of girls

Workshop in Dosso, Niger from 6-8 December 2006 

The impact of rural women's literacy training on girls' schooling was the subject of a workshop held on 6-8 December 2006 in Dosso (Niger). It was organised by ONG-VIE Kande Ni Bayra, the partner of the Dimitra Project for the Sahel region, and was co-financed by Dimitra, FAO, the Belgian Cooperation, the Belgian Technical Cooperation, the Swiss Cooperation, the Canadian Cooperation and UNFPA.

© Maartje Houbrechts

According to the UNDP's Human Development Report 2006, Niger is the poorest country in the world. An important indicator of this is provided by literacy levels: in 2004 only 28.7% of adults (aged 15 and over) were literate. Of these, only 35.1% were women. Illiteracy thus affects women more than men, even though the number of women learning to read and write has been on the rise since 2000 - in 2003 there were seven women for every three men attending the literacy centres.

The obstacles to schooling for girls 

A number of studies have shown that socio-cultural practices often present obstacles to the enrolment of girls in schools and to their remaining at school. In Niger, illiteracy among parents explains the lack of importance attributed to a school education. Other factors may be a restrictive interpretation of religious precepts and a perception of school as a threat to the moral integrity of young girls and thereby of their families. It is believed that girls who go to school are escaping from family, social and community control and go on to question certain values and conduct to which the socio-cultural stereotypes confine them.

At the economic level, increased poverty means that girls must work (undertaking domestic tasks and small-scale business) and there is no perception of the benefits for these girls which may be derived from schooling and literacy.

The overwhelming majority of girls who are excluded from schooling are the daughters of rural women. Yet access to literacy for rural women would undoubtedly have a positive impact on the improvement of their own status and of conditions for children in general and girls in particular.

The women themselves identify obstacles and strategies 

The Dosso workshop sought to give rural women a voice to enable them, in the main national languages (Hausa and Djerma), to identify the obstacles to literacy training and/or to informal education and to find appropriate ways of creating the necessary conditions for their own literacy training.

Around 70 representatives of rural women's organisations, NGOs and organisations active in informal education, community radio stations, the education authority and development partners in Niger took part in the workshop. Representatives from organisations in the Dimitra network from Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso were also invited, which meant the issues could be considered from a regional perspective.

Interest from officials and a visual presentation of the subject 

The workshop was officially opened under the patronage of the First Lady of Niger, Ms Hadjia Laraba Tandja, who is very interested in the issues and who is committed to supporting any action which promotes women's wellbeing. A number of dignitaries from the administrative and traditional authorities were also present at the opening. Among them were the Governor of the Dosso region, the Minister for the Promotion of Women and Child Protection, the Minister of Basic Education and Literacy and the Chief of the Province, Zarmakoye Seydou Maïdana. The FAO representative in Niger also took part in the opening ceremony.

After the opening speeches, a documentary on literacy training and its impacts, made by ONG-VIE, was shown. The initial sequences present a picture of daily life for rural women, constantly occupied by all manner of tasks. However, the film shows that this situation is not a given which cannot be changed. Sa'a, a rural woman from the Maradi region, who was also present at the workshop, illustrated this by enrolling at a literacy training centre. She now sees her future quite differently and encourages women in her region to experience the benefits of education. The documentary aims to persuade rural women to use literacy and information as resources to combat poverty.

Debates and discussions: proposed solutions 

Following a presentation of the Dimitra Project by the project coordinator and one on adult education systems based on communication and the role which can be played by rural community radio stations given by an FAO expert, the participants presented the experiences of their countries in relation to literacy training for rural women. This facilitated a better understanding of the significant contribution made to the schooling of girls by women's access to literacy training. It also highlighted the conditions necessary to promote accessibility.

The presentations were followed by question and answer sessions and debates, and four themed discussion groups were held. Each group dealt with a different issue and had the remit to identify the obstacles inherent in each of the issues and to propose possible solutions to improve current practice: 

  1. Identification of the main obstacles to literacy training for women and of the conditions for access to and success for rural women in informal education.

  2. Content of teaching/learning, focus and strategies to shape high-quality literacy training. 

  3. The influence of literacy training for rural women on schooling for girls. 

  4. The role of community radio stations and new information and communication technologies for the promotion of rural women.

Strategies to be implemented 

Following these discussions, a number of recommendations were formulated, the most significant of which are listed here:

  • Awareness must be raised among men in the same way as among women 

  • A real policy of literacy training for women must be established, with an appropriate budget; training for young girls who dropped out of school must be ensured by the establishment of specific infrastructure.

  • Literacy training activities must include measures to reduce women's domestic burden; literacy training modules must be held at times which suit women and must be more specifically aimed at women. 

  • Literacy training activities must be better planned at the regional level so that there is improved synergy and sharing of experience. 

  • In terms of communication, more use should be made of rural radio stations and new information and communication technologies. Also awareness should be raised among women and men of the aim and role of the radio and of new information and communication technologies. 

  • Community radio stations must be provided with equipment and logistical, financial and human resources, radio stations must be set up where they do not exist and 'radio listening clubs' should be set up in literacy centres. 

  • Programmes aimed specifically at women should be produced. 

  • In the case of any activity it is important to involve religious and community leaders and opinion shapers, men and women.

New synergies 

The workshop provided rural women of Niger with a unique space and for the first time enabled meetings and discussions to take place between these women, people involved in literacy training and representatives of community radio stations. Together the participants identified and analysed the principal obstacles to literacy for women and proposed possible solutions. They also discussed how to give a new impetus to literacy training for women through communication specifically aimed at the training and information needs of rural women.

The plans announced following this workshop include setting up three pilot projects in Gaya, Loga and Tera, where synergies will be encouraged around centres that will bring together community radio stations, literacy training centres and rural women's groups. ONG-VIE and Dimitra, with the continuing cooperation of the funders who contributed to the organisation of the workshop, will develop and test these pilot projects. Also, a booklet on the results of the workshop will be developed and largely distributed.

Further information on the workshop and its follow up are available from ONG-VIE Kande Ni Bayra:

Mr Ali Abdoulaye, viebayra@intnet.ne