Specific measures should be undertaken to close the gap between female and male illiteracy rates. Female literacy as a percentage of male literacy at the global level is 76%, and only 54% in South Asia. With literacy come educational opportunities and a degree of independence. Literacy and its merits are widely recognized as one of the key factors that lead to lower birth rates among women and teenage girls.
Percentage female literacy rates for the ten most populous countries of the developing world (representing almost three quarters of its total female population) are as follows: Philippines (93); Mexico (85); Viet Nam (84); Brazil (81); Indonesia (75); China (68); Nigeria (40); India (34); Bangladesh (22); Pakistan (21). Twelve countries have lifted female literacy by 30 percentage point or more in 20 years. Those countries and their percentage gain are: Saudi Arabia (46); Jordan (41); Kenya (40); Tunisia (39); Zaire (39); Libya (37); Turkey (37); Algeria (35); Ghana (33); Indonesia (33); Iraq (31); Syria (31).