As executive director of READ Global, I often spend the first few seconds with any new acquaintance explaining that READ is about a lot more than our name might suggest. Many people do not realize that READ stands for Rural Education and Development, and that in the villages where we work, a READ Center (which is a library at its very core) serves as a platform for a variety of programs and resources that rural communities desperately need and want.

Some still think of a library simply as a place to check out a book, read quietly, or get research assistance. In my eight years leading this amazing organization, I know that libraries offer so much more than a quiet place for people to enjoy reading. Enter a READ Center, and you might be surprised to find a bustling space where community members are working together to find solutions to local challenges. READ Centers serve as platforms for a wide variety of programs that can transform communities – livelihood skills development, women’s empowerment, technology training, microcredit, and entrepreneurship, as well as youth leadership and children’s programs. Each community-owned and managed READ Center partners with local organizations to deliver tailored programming that best meets local needs.

Women across Nepal, India and Bhutan are overcoming adversity through their READ Centers, and READ takes multiple angles to tackle gender discrimination.

As the World Bank noted last month, “Better-educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn more, give birth to fewer children, marry at a later age, and provide better healthcare and education to their children.”

READ knows that empowering women means strengthening families today and developing tomorrow’s changemakers. Let’s work towards this noble goal together, one community at a time.

Tina Sciabica

Rural Education and Development Global

San Francisco, Calif.

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