Literacy, Gender and Citizenship

An Action Research Study on Educational Opportunities for Women

Nirantar initiated an action research study that would evoke and analyse women’s perceptions related to education and empowerment as well as perceptions of those in relevant institutions of governance.

The context in which the need for such a study was felt is one in which there was a lack of commitment to women’s education as reflected in grossly inadequate programmes, meagre budgetary allocations and under utilisation of the available meagre resources. The context was also one in which there was a decline in both the extent and quality of interventions in the area of women’s literacy on the part of NGOs. The low priority accorded to literacy assumed that dependence on the educated is not a problem. For the women's movement too, women's education, and in particular literacy, were not priority areas compared to issues of health, violence and legal rights. The linkages between education and women’s empowerment were not part of the discourse within the movement. In particular, Nirantar wanted to see how the perceptions of these stakeholders matched with the perceptions of women from marginalised communities about the significance of literacy.

The study was carried out over a two-year period in six different states. It was part of a project entitled Gender, Citizenship & Governance in South Asia & Southern Africa, coordinated by Royal Tropical Institute, Netherlands (April 1999 - 2003). 

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