Public debate and dialogue from a capabilities approach: Can it foster gender justice in education?

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State institutions and transnational civil society organizations play an important role in constructing the public discourses and undertaking interventions related to gender equality and education. However, interventions often directed at girls and institutional approaches aimed at securing rights to education have been limited in transforming gender injustices in other societal spaces. The capabilities approach, and particularly the concepts of public debate and dialogue, offers another approach to engage top-down institutional approaches and bottom-up initiatives in the work toward gender justice. This paper provides an analysis of how actors in an international NGO's gender and education program engage in public debate and dialogue. I draw on feminist scholars' concepts of voice and recognition, the public sphere and 'rational' debate, and solidarities among transnational actors to extend how public debate and dialogue can be enacted by NGO actors to transform gender inequalities. This analysis also reveals the challenges and limits of engaging in public debate and dialogue to foster gender justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-371
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Capabilities approach
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Public debate and dialogue

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