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Women's Literacy in Africa: Challenges and Perspectives

Welcome to my series on the challenges facing African women. In this visual, I look into the pervasive issue of women's literacy. Join me as I delve into the complexities of these challanges and strive for a better future for African women.

Context  Setting the stage and providing background information

The visual  Description and analysis of the visual representation

Observations Notable findings and insights derived from the visual

Omissions  Elements or data points not included in the visual

The data  Sources and details regarding the data used in the visual

Reflections Personal thoughts and considerations on the subject matter


In Africa, literacy remains a critical challenge for women, hindering their economic development and perpetuating cycles of poverty. Low literacy rates among African women pose multifaceted challenges, particularly in terms of economic development and poverty alleviation. The consequences of low literacy extend beyond women themselves to affect their children's well-being and future prospects, perpetuating the cycle of poverty into the next generation.

I represented women's literacy with a bookcase.

Each shelf denotes one of the top 10 worst countries in terms of women's literacy. While women's literacy percentages are notable, what's most intriguing is the contrast between women's and men's literacy in the same country.


As of 2022, only 61% of African women were literate, reflecting significant disparities in education access across the continent. Several African countries, including Chad, Mali, Central African Republic, Somalia, and South Sudan, face exceptionally low literacy rates for women, ranging from 19% to 29%. These countries have been plagued by conflict and instability, with religious and cultural factors also influencing literacy rates.


The visual includes only the 10 worst-performing countries in terms of women's literacy. Many other countries have women's literacy rates below 50%, including Guinea-Bissau (41%), Sierra Leone (41%), Ethiopia (44%), Senegal (47%), and Mozambique (49%).

The data

Data for this visual is sourced from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. One limitation of this dataset is that, while most data is from 2020 onwards, a couple of countries use data from 2017 (Liberia) and 2018 (South Sudan) as the most recent years.


How can we counteract religious and cultural beliefs to ensure better educational outcomes for African women and their children?

Please be sure to check out my other visuals in this series:


Welcome to VisionAfrique!

I'm Dara Gbolahan, the creative force behind VisionAfrique.

While I don't claim to be an Africa expert, I'm a graphic designer and data visualization specialist who loves bringing complex topics to life visually. With this blog, I'm on a mission to infuse some life and personality into our discussions about Africa's challenges and triumphs.



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