In 2008, 796 million adults worldwide (15 years and older) reported not being able to read and write and two-thirds of them (64%) were women (see Table 1). The global adult literacy rate was 83%, with a male literacy rate of 88% and a female literacy rate of 79%. More than half of those unable to read and write – 412 million – lived in Southern Asia. A further 176 million adults were in sub-Saharan Africa. Together, these two regions accounted for three-quarters (74%) of adults unable to read and write worldwide.
Learn more on UNESCO’s Literacy Factsheet.