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Gender inequalities in education: a case study of the girls’ stipend programme in Punjab, Pakistan

Tajammal, Fariha (2018) Gender inequalities in education: a case study of the girls’ stipend programme in Punjab, Pakistan. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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This study evaluates the impact of the Girls’ Stipend Programme (GSP) – a gender-targeted conditional cash transfer (CCT) – on the educational rights of girls at middle and secondary levels of education in the Punjab Province of Pakistan. Using the Rights Framework (comprising of rights to, within and through education) and Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital and field, this study argues that the GSP in Punjab resulted in a short-term impact on girls’ increased enrolment in middle schools. However, this has not expanded their rights through education i.e. the instrumental role of education in transforming gender inequalities and enhancing the capabilities of girls. There are high levels of girls’ dropout from secondary level of schooling, even with the availability of the stipend, which has received scant attention in the project design and subsequent impact evaluations of the programme. This research further finds how the intersection of gender, poverty, culture and location hinders girls’ right to education i.e. access. In the study region, a visible impact of GSP on the mind-set of both parents, aspiring to improve the level of their daughters’ education was noted. However, parental perceptions (i.e. gendered habitus) about gender norms and patriarchal practices highlighted the limited value placed on the instrumental role of education in capabilities development and challenging gender inequalities in household relations. Despite lower levels of cultural and economic capital of households, a significant level of mothers’ emotional involvement in their daughters’ education was also noted. Nevertheless, the role of social capital (networks, particularly community support) was limited in the progression of girls into middle and high schools. Further, these were compounded with the limitations of institutional provision of schooling, which determine girls’ rights within education, such as shortage of high schools, distance to schools, quality of learning and the alignment of the curriculum with the labour market opportunities. Regional differences in girls’ educational rights were marked, as in the district of Rahim Yar Khan, a less developed district in southern Punjab, there was indeed a lower level of parental awareness on the use of stipend for girls’ educational futures. It is hoped that this study will contribute to knowledge, policy and practice in understanding both household and institutional factors that affect not only girls’ rights to but also rights within and through education.

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