After her landmark speech to the United Nations last year, Emma Watson has been widely praised for being one of the key celebrity figures behind the mainstreaming of feminism. Her HeForShe campaign focused on the role of men in promoting feminist ideals, and now Watson has turned her attention elsewhere. Talking to her 22.7 million Twitter followers, the actor made a powerful statement about the importance of literacy, and the fact that not being able to read or write is the root cause of some of the biggest problems faced by women today.
"Reading and writing can improve women's lives," the tweet read, before citing 2008 data from the Centre for Global Development. "Each extra year at school increases a girl's earning ability by 10-20%." Other celebrities including Julianne Moore, Lily Cole and Taylor Schilling have also tweeted to promote the belief that increased female literacy rates could help combat FGM, reduce the number of child brides, increase infant mortality rates, and even prevent malnutrition.
Their tweets are part of Illiteracy: The Twitter A-Z, a social media movement in which 26 famous figures around the world have adopted a letter of the alphabet that corresponds to a worthwhile cause.
One in 10 people worldwide (758 million) lack basic reading and writing skills, according to Project Literacy, a campaign run by publishers Pearson, and the consequences for families and communities can be devastating. The problem also reportedly costs the world $1.19 trillion a year, and yet many of us take these basic skills for granted.