Girls’ Education and Discursive Spaces for Empowerment: Perspectives from Rural India




Research in Comparative and International Education


South Asia

This article examines a national girls’ education program and its role in addressing gender inequality in the Indian state of Gujarat. In 2004, the Ministry of Education, Government of India, enacted the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyala (KGBV) program. As a national program designed to increase educational access for the most marginalized girls, the KGBV program innovatively partners with the non-governmental organization (NGO) CARE India and employs a curriculum focused on fostering girls’ ‘empowerment’. Empowerment, a process relating to an increase in individuals’ power over resources and decisions in their life, relies upon education as the key institution to provide the tools to expand women’s access to the economic and political spheres of society. Employing an ethnographic and institutional approach, this article empirically investigates the education-empowerment link by examining how institutional form impacts the social processes that both define and characterize empowerment. In other words, it investigates how empowerment is manifested in one KGBV school. It presents an ethnographic study of a KGBV in Gujarat, and identifies findings related to the KGBV program’s ability to create a unique ‘space’ that fosters empowerment.

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