Life skills have become the foci of many girls’ education initiatives because they are assumed to empower girls to negotiate oppressive gender norms constraining their lives. Often these programmes give a singular attention to gender norms, despite other interlocking oppressive structures and norms. Although postcolonial feminist perspectives in education have often stressed on intersectional analyses, little attention has been given to caste in such scholarship in India. In this paper, we draw on data from a three-year qualitative study of a girls’ life skills programme in Rajasthan, India, employing a postcolonial feminist framework. We engage with Dalitbahujan feminist perspectives in education (Paik, S. 2014. Dalit Women's Education in Modern India: Double Discrimination. London: Routledge.) to decolonize our frameworks and illustrate how the life skills programme produced contradictory outcomes to address gender oppression, such as ensuring girls' bodily integrity, while re-inscribing caste norms. This intersectional analysis of caste, gender, and modernity expands on a postcolonial feminist critique of life skills.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research study discussed in this paper was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. We thank our colleagues from JPAL South Asia and American University, as well as the research assistants and translators in the conduct of this research. We also thank the participants in this study, the young girls and women as well as the local, national, and international staff from the nongovernmental organization for their cooperation during the conduct of this research.
The research study discussed in this paper was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Postcolonial theory
- caste, girls' education