Education Rigorous Literature Review: Girls' Education and Gender Equality

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Authors: Elaine Unterhalter (Institute of Education, University of London), Amy North (Institute of Education, University of London), Madeleine Arnot (University of Cambridge), Cynthia Lloyd (Independent Consultant), Lebo Moletsane (University of KwaZulu Natal), Erin Murphy-Graham (University of California, Berkeley), Jenny Parkes (Institute of Education, University of London), Mioko Saito (International Institute for Educational Planning, UNESCO), 2014

This material has been funded by the Department for International Development.

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This rigorous review of literature on interventions to enhance girls’ education and gender equality was commissioned by DFID in December 2012. The review has been conducted by a team of experts on gender and education, with a range of complementary expertise. The review team set out to undertake a systematic search through existing databases and library collections to identify literature on this topic published since 1991. Material has been reviewed firstly through an analysis of the distribution of studies, methodologically, geographically, and in terms of an assessment of quality and the nature of funding. 

Secondly, the review has generated a conceptual map of the field, which has been used to consider where published studies cluster, what this indicates about the type of interventions which have been researched, and current gaps in knowledge. We have use a systematic approach to reviewing the literature to discuss what research there is on effective and feasible interventions, and make suggestions for how to expand the research agenda.

The research question guiding this review is: On the basis of an evaluation of evidence, what leads to expansion and improvement in girls’ education? Under what conditions does evidence suggest that this expansion and improvement is associated with gender equality within and beyond schools?

A theory of change (ToC) was developed for the study and is used to discuss key findings.


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