Raising awareness and mobilizing action

Project Literacy is building a movement to advocate for greater investment in literacy. Why? Because we’ll need everyone on board to close the literacy gap by 2030.

One of the biggest challenges we face is lack of awareness. This is a global crisis, but people just don’t realize it’s happening or how devastating the consequences are. Illiteracy is behind all kinds of ills, from gender inequality and unemployment to malnutrition and infant mortality. It affects people of all ages, from every country in the world, limiting the potential of one out of every ten people on this planet.

Project Literacy wants to make the problem more visible by increasing public awareness of illiteracy and encouraging a diverse set of people to take action to help.


The Unsigned Petition

In September 2015 we launched the Unsigned Petition on behalf of the 757 million illiterate people worldwide who cannot sign their own name, two thirds of whom are women.

Sixteen Project Literacy partners joined Pearson, the world's learning company, to launch the petition and carry it to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where 193 global leaders were attending the UN General Assembly. This petition calls upon the world’s leaders to acknowledge the urgency of the international illiteracy crisis and pledge to take meaningful action to address it.

You too can sign the petition and help raise the issue of illiteracy up the global policy agenda.

Sign the Petition


The Alphabet of Illiteracy

In February 2016 we launched a campaign called The Alphabet of Illiteracy. Through a powerful visual narrative designed by renowned sculpture artist Wilfrid Wood, each letter of the Alphabet correlates to a major global challenge. It’s a brilliant way of illustrating the central role literacy can play in meeting some of humanity’s greatest challenges.

For example, G stands for Gender Inequality because without progress on literacy we inhibit progress for women and girls. Today, 520 million women worldwide remain illiterate. And yet we know that literacy empowers women and leads to economic independence.

The letter I stands for Infant Mortality because without progress on literacy, we limit progress on child survival. Babies born to illiterate mothers in Sub-Saharan Africa are 50 percent less likely to reach their fifth birthday. And yet with just four to six years of education for women, there would be 20 percent fewer infant deaths.

This campaign won a Gold and Grand Prix Cannes Lion in June 2016 for its creativity and effectiveness.

Explore the Alphabet and share the stories that make the Alphabet such a powerful awakening.

Explore the Alphabet


The Mighty Pencil Machine

In September 2016, to celebrate International Literacy Day, we created a Mighty Pencil Machine which created pencils from messages of support sent from people around the world that were able to complete one sentence:

"The power of words can..."

The pencils created from these messages were sold to at an event in New York City to raise money for literacy programs around the world. The remaining pencils were then shared with Project Literacy partners and are now being used in literacy programs across the US.

The event was supported by actress and literacy advocate Julianne Moore, who shared how literacy had contributed to her success and inspired her to help us raise awareness of the impact that not being able to read can have - and is having - on over 758 million adults around the world.

Explore what the power of words means to you and share your messages of support with the world via Twitter using the Mighty Pencil Machine online.

Share your message


GOOD Stories

We have teamed up with GOOD Magazine to report on the issue of illiteracy from a wide-range of perspectives - from a brothel in India to the streets of Los Angeles. In 2015 alone we reached more than 61 million people through these stories online.

Explore our GOOD story collection