The Fundza Literacy Trust has released the results of its annual digital survey, showcasing the role of digital platforms in advancing literacy and educational equity among women.

With more than 4,1-million site visitors in 2023, Fundza’s zero-rated mobisite is a fee-free digital reading and writing platform for young South Africans that aims to increase young women’s access to user-generated reading materials.

The survey reveals several economic realities faced by young female readers and writers in our country today. Some of these include the following high-level findings:

* Approximately 81% of women not in education lack full-time employment, emphasizing the urgent need for alternative access to written materials. For those with limited resources, Fundza becomes a valuable resource, as 74% of users come from medium-to-large households (more than four members) earning less than R5 000 per month;

* 7,7% of the women not in education that lack full-time employment have given up on looking for work;

* In terms of income, nearly 30% of female respondents relied on social grants, while only 10,6% had an income. The remainder relied on sponsors and family members to get by; and

* More than 60% of respondents indicated that their primary language for communication at home was not English.

“Fundza, in agreement with UNESCO’s stance that mother tongue-based education is a key factor for quality learning and inclusion, offers content written in multiple South African languages and encourages users to write and submit their own stories, articles, and other materials in their mother tongue,” says Lea-Anne Moses, executive director of Fundza.

“This practice enriches the shared pool of literature and provides our female readers with insights into the diverse experiences of other women navigating the complexities of life in South Africa.

“Continued awareness of the struggles and difficulties facing women and girls in South Africa cannot rely on publicity from biannual holidays. We must actively listen to and value the unique experiences of women and girls, making such recognition a regular practice that enriches our collective understanding,” she adds.