Tuesday 8 September 2020 is International Literacy Day. To help Mamamia in supporting the world's most disadvantaged women and girls to learn how to read, you can donate to Room to Read here.
Imagine, just for a moment, that you're unable to read. That you've never been able to read.
Imagine wiping away every word that's ever made its way from a page to your brain. Forget the history books and the health information, the news stories and the text messages and the signs that tell you where you are and where you're going. Erase the novels and the sets of instructions and the contracts and the forms - all those bloody forms - that make up the minutiae of everyday life.
While most of us take it for granted, reading is, in a sense, the closest humans will ever come to telepathy. When we read, we're hearing aloud the thoughts of another person, and that relatively unexceptional act is the basis of human knowledge and development. By reading we can travel to places we've never been to, see realities we could never imagine ourselves, and develop mental structures that permanently change the way we think.
But in 2020, over 750 million people are illiterate, and two-thirds are women and girls. Decades of research shows us that teaching a girl to read is the single greatest catalyst for lifting individuals and communities out of poverty, not only because the ability to read makes them healthier, safer and more self-sufficient, but because girls will grow up to teach their families to read, too.
Watch: In December 2019, a group of our staff travelled to Cambodia to experience for themselves how Mamamia is helping to fund the education of girls in disadvantaged communities. Post continues after video.
So today on International Literacy Day, Mamamia wanted our community to know, just for a moment, what it feels like to not be able to read. To experience first-hand the frustration of knowing that the shapes in front of you hold limitless meaning, but you can't access it.