Gender and Capacity Building: A Multi-layered Study of Empowerment

Claudia Eger, Graham Miller, Caroline Scarles

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This study shifts the focus from building individual capacities to understanding the relational acts through which empowerment and education acquire their value and meaning. Conceptually, the paper employs social cognitive theory to explore the interplay between social learning, relational agency, and culture. This interplay builds the foundation for the development of an empowerment model of capacity building that proposes an interlinked system of community capacity and empowerment dimensions. The model is explored in the context of the Education for All project in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The research combines participant observation, qualitative interviews and visual methods to provide rich insights to situated knowledges of learning and empowerment. Findings reveal that the meaning of education equates to the capacity to aspire to a different life. This problematizes the way gender and gender relations are understood in the rural Berber villages. The girls’ education unsettles the repeating cycle of female educational deprivation, and leads them to become role models within their communities. This instills the image of educated women in community consciousness, leading to an incipient change in perceptions of what girls and women can be and do.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWorld Development
Pages (from-to)207-219
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Berber communities
  • Capacity building
  • Development
  • Gender empowerment
  • Morocco
  • Social cognitive theory

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