Interventions to enhance girls' education and gender equality. Education rigorous literature review


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. A systematic approach to reviewing the literature is used 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.

The report is structured as follows: Chapter 2 outlines the methods used to conduct the study. Chapter 3 presents the ToC used in the study, shows how the work reviews clusters at particular nodes of the ToC and comments on some features of the methodological and regional distribution of studies. Chapter 4 discusses the analysis of what the literature indicates, drawing on the major categories of the ToC. It also highlights key gaps in the knowledge base identified through evaluation of the evidence. Chapter 5 draws some conclusions, reflects on some of the strengths and weaknesses of the rigorous review conducted, considers some of the key gaps and outlines some themes for a future research agenda.


Unterhalter, E.; North, A.; Arnot, M.; Lloyd, C.; Moletsane, L.; Murphy-Graham, E.; Parkes, J.; Saito, M. Interventions to enhance girls’ education and gender equality. Education rigorous literature review. DFID, London, UK (2014) iii + 105 pp.

Interventions to enhance girls’ education and gender equality. Education rigorous literature review

Published 1 January 2014