Women, literacy and health: comparing health and education sectoral approaches in Nepal

Sushan Acharya, Anna Robinson-Pant

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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Functional adult literacy interventions have been regarded for many decades by policy makers as an effective way of imparting health knowledge. Supported by research on the statistical relationships between women’s literacy rates and health indicators, this dominant policy discourse is based on assumptions that non-literate women lack understanding and confidence, and that formal programmes and institutions constitute the main sites of learning. Proposing a broader conceptualisation of literacy as a social practice and of health as connected with social justice, this article draws on policy analysis and the authors’ earlier research in Nepal to re-examine the relationship between gender, literacy and health. By comparing health and literacy approaches used within the education and health sectors and taking account of new and indigenous informal learning practices, the article points to ways of investigating the complex interaction of factors that influence inequalities in gender and health at community level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-229
Number of pages19
JournalCompare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education
Issue number2
Early online date13 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2019


  • Adult literacy
  • health education
  • health literacy
  • health promotion
  • gender equality
  • Nepal
  • women’s literacy

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