Women’s Literacy and the Links Between Maternal Health, Reproductive Health and Daughter Education

PDF - 165 KB
Helpdesk Query:

A quick review of the most recent available evidence available on the links between women’s literacy and: maternal health; reproductive behaviour and daughter education. With a particular interest in the impact of interventions after formal schooling.


Development agencies have found two predictable indicators for longevity among women in developing countries: accessible clean water and literacy skills. Of the 1 billion illiterate people in the world, two thirds of them are women. Literate women average 2 children per family while illiterate women give birth to 6–8 children.

  • Educated women are more likely to use health clinics and return to the clinic if their children’s health does not improve.
  • Educated women tend to begin their families at a later age and have fewer, healthier children.
  • A 1% rise in women’s literacy is 3 times more likely to reduce deaths in children than a 1% rise in the number of doctors.
  • For women, 4 to 6 years of education led to a 20% drop in infant deaths.
  • Women with more education generally have better personal health and nutrition.
  • The families of women with some education tend to have better housing, clothing, income, water, and sanitation.
  • Mother’s literacy has greater impact on the chances of daughters being educated than sons.

The report includes sections on the following areas:

  1. Women’s Literacy and Health
  2. Maternal Health
  3. Reproductive Health
  4. Daughter Education


PDF - 165 KB

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