In England, illiteracy is more closely linked with low pay and unemployment than in any other developed country, a fact that is as heartbreaking as it is avoidable. According to a survey by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 9% of young women (aged 16-24) are affected by illiteracy and one in seven (14%) lack basic literacy skills, something that Lancôme is attempting to address with its new partnership with the National Literacy Trust. Launching today, Words For Work: Women In Leadership is a new programme that is part of Lancôme’s Write Her Future initiative, a global campaign aimed at tackling the literacy crisis currently affecting the lives of 76 million young women. The partnership will last for a minimum of three years, in three schools for the first year, in London, Nottingham and Manchester.
Reading and writing, for most of us, is as natural as breathing. But for one out of every seven women in the UK, it is not
In the chosen schools, teaching staff will help to choose 25 young women aged 16-20 who will benefit most from taking part in the programme, which includes an immersion day at Lancôme’s HQ. During this day, there will be teacher-led workshops on everything, from formal writing to presentation skills, while there will also be talks from a panel of role models. Lancôme ambassador Kate Winslet helped to launch the programme in London yesterday, along with blogger and author Chidera Eggerue. Speaking at the launch, Winslet said: “Reading and writing, for most of us, is as natural as breathing. But for one out of every seven women in the UK, it is not. Lancôme and the National Literacy Trust want to help disadvantaged women to be able to communicate effectively, and help them to secure their first jobs.”
While illiteracy affects people all over the world, it has a profound impact on women as they are, generally, already at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts. The National Literacy Trust, for example, conducted research into literacy and life expectancy and discovered that: “At every level of education, women need to earn one additional degree in order to reach average salaries in line with men’s averages.” Hopefully, initiatives like this one from Lancôme will enact real change, helping to empower women without the basic skills most of us take for granted.