Author: Rachel Marcus

6. Useful resources


Tools to promote change in school systems 

Tools to support gender-equitable approaches in the classroom  

Tools based on proven initiatives

Further reading 

While there is strong evidence for the social impact and transformative effects of education for girls, the processes by which education contributes to empowerment and norm change have received much less attention.

Social impacts of girls’ education 

  • While a vast body of literature draws on large-scale statistical evidence to highlight the positive social impacts of girls’ education, the pathways to norm change are not discussed in any depth. Good overviews include Sperling and Winthrop (2015), King and Winthrop (2015), UNESCO’s 2013 infographics on ‘Education Transforms Lives’, and Chaaban and Cunningham’s 2011 analysis of the economic gains of investing in girls’ education. 

Education and empowerment 

  • Studies focus on the relationship between education and various dimensions of empowerment, such as developing self-confidence and skills. Key conceptual sources include Murphy-Graham and Lloyd (2015) and Stromquist (2006). Marcus and Page (2016) synthesise evidence on the empowering impacts of girls’ education, while Sperling and Winthrop (2015) highlight evidence on the impact of girls’ education on voice and agency and political engagement. 
  • Analysis of demographic and health survey (DHS) data from the mid-2000s shows how these patterns can be complicated by factors such as family structures. Studies of women’s empowerment processes with a long historical view highlight the rising proportion of girls in school and greater economic opportunities for women with secondary education as key drivers of gender norm change (see also here).  

Education and norm change

  • Some literature explores the impact of education on gender norms using statistical data to illuminate the role of education and of other factors in attitude and norm change. Examples include the World Bank’s 2013 On Norms and Agency, which draws on primary research in 20 countries to highlight education as a key driver of shifting gender norms. Kabeer’s 2012 analysis of evidence on the forces underpinning women’s economic empowerment also emphasises education, as does Seguino’s 2007 analysis of data from the World Values Survey. Studies on particular issues (such as UNICEF’s 2013 Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Statistical Overview) illustrate education’s power to change gender norms and practices. 
Marcus, R. 2017 Education and gender norm change, ALIGN, London, UK