Decolonizing life skills education for girls in Brahmanical India: a Dalitbahujan perspective

Aditi Arur, Joan DeJaeghere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-507
Number of pages18
JournalGender and Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 19 2019


  • India
  • Postcolonial theory
  • caste, girls' education
  • intersectionality

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