Founded in 1991 by READ Global
Bhutan, India and Nepal
The READ Centers help women with low-literacy levels to develop basic reading and communication skills so they can fulfill their roles as citizens, workers, and family members.
"The rural development center is an extension of our collaborative work to bring systematic change within a community,” said Rekha M. Menon, chairman and managing director, Accenture in India. “The overarching goal is to encourage other non-profit and co-funding partners to work together to build an initiative that has far reaching impact and is based on a scalable model with sustainable outcomes. A rural community thrives when the engagement and programs are multi-faceted and address various needs together in a holistic manner.”
A large majority of women are undereducated and disadvantaged in South Asia, particularly in rural areas. Many girls marry before 18, ending their education and resulting in early pregnancies. As adults they have to ask for permission from their husbands to leave home for reasons other than child care or farm work. Women cannot lift themselves out of poverty.
Solution and innovation
READ Centers give women a safe space to gather, learn and advocate. focus on building community libraries and resource centers that help rural community members launch businesses. The READ Centers have community library, a computer room, women’s section, and a training hall. There is also a for-profit community based enterprise that creates local jobs and generates revenue to sustain the center. We provide education, economic empowerment, and technology access to support their livelihoods. The centers are owned and operated by the local community.
2,3 million rural villagers have access to one of the 100 READ Centers, based in 314 villages. 83% of the women in Nepal report that since coming to the READ Center their confidence has increased. Their decision-making power in healthcare, family planning, and children’s education has increased. One in five women are now leaders in their communities. One in five women surveyed at Centers with savings cooperatives have started their own micro-enterprise. In total 197 for-profit enterprises were launched to sustain READ Centers.
“Before joining the Center I thought that women were bound to be in the house as housewives. Later I realized women are also capable of doing everything. Now you can see a change of roles in my families.” Nepali READ Center user.
Read more about the impact of the READ's Centers.
Watch the READ Global video.