Less than 25% of Nepali women are literate. In a society where females are generally given more duties and less freedom and opportunities than their male peers, increasing the availability of education and literacy for women and girls of all ages is a vital step forward. When women are able to access and understand the written word, a world of potential opens before them. While ETC's Women's Development Program has grown to encompass the formation of women's groups and cooperatives, the creation of savings and loan associations, and initiation of a host of social and economic development activities, literacy training remains the starting point.
The Basic Literacy Class lasts six months. After successful completion of this class, the women enroll in an Advanced Literacy class for another six months, which is followed by a three month Legal Literacy class. Legal Literacy teaches women about their fundamental rights as women, as Nepali citizens and as human beings. Literacy classes are an intensive 2 hours a night, 6 nights a week.
Newly literate women are encouraged to express their views in Learner Generated Material workshops. They write articles which ETC collects and publishes, and the publications are distributed to all women's group members. Seeing their own written words formally presented provides a sense of accomplishment, validation, and increases their self-confidence. Celebration of events such as International Women's Day, Literacy Day, World Health Day and others help motivate women and their communities to achieve the goals they set for themselves.