This book challenges the assumption that women's literacy rates can be measured and correlated with statistical indicators of development, such as child mortality or fertility rates. Using rich ethnographic data from two contrasting literacy programmes in Nepal, the author examines what kind of literacy and what kind of development are being promoted by international aid agencies. As well as bringing the voices of women participants, class facilitators and trainers into the policy arena, the book looks at how ethnographic research like this could be used to improve current development planning practices.
The link between women's literacy and development is seen not as an equation that planners can somehow calculate, but as a dynamic process in which all the involved partners can and should play an active role.
"Why Eat Green Cucumber at the Time of Dying?" is the winner of the 1998 International Award for Literacy Research, sponsored by the Canadian National Literacy Secretariat and the French governmental literacy agency Groupe Permanent de Lutte contre l'Illetrisme, and supervised by the UNESCO Institute for Education (UIE), Hamburg.