Gender equality, education, and development: Tensions between global, national, and local policy discourses in postcolonial Contexts

Naureen Durrani, Anjum Halai

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


We adopt a postcolonial perspective as an entry point to the proliferating literature on global gender equality policies and their enactment. Through a literature review and an empirical study of postcolonial Pakistan, we argue that global gender equality discourses tend to ignore the ways colonialism was integral to the rise of modernity in the West. The development of modern societies also saw the development of institutionalised education in forms that now underpin the promotion of mass (universal) education around the world. These interconnections have a significant bearing on the relationship of gender and education, particularly in postcolonial contexts, where education is deployed in nation-building projects that simultaneously seek to modernise the nation by emulating the rationality, science, and technology of the colonial power in the public realm, and to keep the nation’s distinction from the colonisers through the feminine. This feminine positioning involves the construction of ‘authentic’/‘traditional’ womanhood to mark the cultural distinction of the postcolonial nation. The private/public divide that was intrinsic to Western gender relations was, thus, redoubled in contexts of postcoloniality. The collision of these competing national goals – modernity and tradition – with international policy discourses is detrimental to the realisation of gender equality. This chapter addresses that neglect of the specificities of postcolonial settings in education and development scholarship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Grading goal four
Subtitle of host publicationTensions, threats and opportunities in the sustainable development goal on quality education
EditorsAntonia Wulff
Place of PublicationLeiden, The Netherlands
PublisherSense Publishers
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2 2020


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