SSI1 126

Gender, Literacy, and International Development

Everyone knows the saying, "If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime." What if the "man" being taught is a woman? What if the "fishing" being learned is a form of literacy (whether alphabetic literacy, health literacy, or economic literacy)? For many reasons, women are disproportionately represented among the world's poor and illiterate populations, and gender roles for both men and women contribute to social inequities as well as possibilities for successful international development. Increasingly, development experts agree that efforts to reduce poverty must take into account cultural norms and gender roles--for both men and women--and that literacy education is key to this process. But what forms of literacy should be learned? Who should make the choice? How do rising literacy rates affect gender roles, religious traditions, health expectations, and resource usage? Students in this course engage in discussions of varied reading materials including a novel, policy documents, theory about the effects and nature of literacy, and ethnographic studies of men and women engaged in literacy learning around the world. Through focusing on interdisciplinary perspectives on gender, literacy, and international development, students in this course begin developing intellectual habits necessary to write and speak effectively and with integrity in college. Affiliate department: English.