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Member Profile October 2014


World Literacy Canada



The Women of World Literacy Canada.

This month CCIC met with Jasmine Gill, Executive Director of World Literacy Canada.  Jasmine shared her views on World Literacy Canada’s programming, explained the approach World Literacy Canada uses to foster women’s empowerment and described the impact of one of their main project, the Sally Swenson Scholarship… among other things!


CCIC - World Literacy Canada has been a leader in delivering literacy education for nearly 60 years. In your opinion what has made World Literacy Canada's programming so successful and unique?

Jasmine Gill - World Literacy Canada's programs are very effective because they are grassroots, that is, community-based in their approach. We work directly with our beneficiaries to design and deliver educational programs that are responsive to the needs of the community as a whole. In India, where we have a program office, our adult literacy programs are created and governed with the participation of women's groups in each community. In Canada, we work to provide opportunities for children in under-served communities to contribute their voices to the global community. Our mission is to deliver and support the education of women and children as a means to enhance gender equity, to eliminate poverty and to increase the well-being of the communities in which we work. Our programming successfully supports our mission because of its direct and efficient approach, responsiveness to community concerns and the strength, commitment and  dedication of all involved to further the cause of literacy.


CCIC - Women's empowerment is at the core of your work. Could you please describe the approach that World Literacy Canada uses and why this such a priority for your organization.

Jasmine Gill - World Literacy Canada supports the development of women as leaders through the establishment of a democratically-elected community groups (Mahila Mandals)  that meet regularly to discuss local issues, and to act as the decision-making body on all components of our educational programs. These Mahila Mandals are at the centre of our overseas educational programming, because they act both as a collective female voice to speak on behalf of those who cannot yet read or write and as the driving force supporting the efforts of other women in the community in achieving literacy and making their voices heard. We also work to provide resources to the Mahila Mandals concerning access to government benefits and services in order to make positive changes in their homes and communities. Women are often the caretakers of their homes and communities, and through supporting the education and contributions of women we are supporting the development and well-being of the community as a whole.


CCIC - World Literacy Canada's Sally Swenson Scholarship is currently one of your main projects. Could you briefly describe the impact that this project has and the type of results you have achieved.

Jasmine Gill - The Sally Swenson Scholarship program is currently supporting 200 kids through their entire formal education process. With the help of the committed sponsors of this program, we cover a student’s tuition, books, school supplies, transportation, after-school tutoring, and community engagement in the importance of education. The results are enormous, as the children who participate in this program are able to reach the tops of their classes and proceed to higher education opportunities. It is a remarkable reminder that the capacity to succeed comes from within, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to provide educations to children who would otherwise not have access and to support them in the development of their many talents and aspirations.


CCIC - What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

Jasmine Gill - I am looking forward to exploring the many creative opportunities before us to expand the reach of World Literacy Canada's longstanding programs through partnerships with like-minded organizations, and to evolve our programming to add other dimensions to education that will strengthen the link between literacy and economic well-being. 


CCIC - World Literacy Canada is a longstanding CCIC member. From your perspective, what is the value of CCIC?

Jasmine Gill - The coalition of organizations involved offer a depth and expansive view of sustainable development, which undoubtedly has contributed to our knowledge base and growth over decades. We are grateful to be represented by a coalition that has all of  its diverse members' interests at heart, and that provides a powerful and coherent voice on the issues that affect us all!


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