Dr. Erin Murphy-Graham

University of California, Berkeley

Education, Empowerment, and Transforming Gender Norms and Relations

Empowering Adolescent Girls and Ending Child Marriage Through Education

My research also investigates the concept of empowerment. I have devoted much of my career to examining the relationship between education and girls’/women’s empowerment, with a focus on transforming gender norms and relationships. My work draws upon empirical evidence to clarify the links between education and girls’ empowerment and to identify educational practices, policies, and perspectives that can promote empowerment and social change. My theory of empowerment, which was first introduced in her book “Opening Minds, Improving Lives: Education and Women’s Empowerment in Honduras” (2012), has since gained traction in the field and is often cited as a theoretical guide for empowerment research.

I have also actively researched and published on the issue of child marriage in Central America, exploring the role of education in addressing the challenges of child marriage and transforming gender relations. My work emphasizes the need for education to challenge oppressive relationships and structures and to promote more egalitarian relationships. In my research, I focus on the concept of agency and examine how education can enhance girls’ agency, expanding their choice sets and delaying the age of marriage.

I am also involved in a design-based research project supported by the Summit Charitable Foundation, in partnership with the Bayan Association and the Honduran government, aimed at addressing early marriage and pregnancy in rural areas through the Holistic Education for Youth (HEY!) program. This project, which is the first of its kind in Central America, involves the design of a curriculum for 7th, 9th, and 11th graders and parents to address early marriage and pregnancy.

Overall, my work has been influential in advancing the field of education and women’s empowerment, and my research findings have been widely disseminated through various channels, including academic publications, videos, podcasts, and presentations

In the Media

As a researcher based in Honduras, I explore the relationship between school dropout, child marriage, and early pregnancy. I specifically focus on the agency of adolescent girls and the disconnect between their education and future prospects. Through my research, I seek to gain a deeper understanding of these complex and interconnected issues. Click here to listen.

This podcast reflects on the essence of gendered norms and provides a chance for listeners to take individual action based on the learned lessons. I provide insights into these topics. Listen here.

Holistic Education for Youth (HEY!) is a school-based intervention that seeks to prevent child marriage in rural areas of Honduras. Visit website.


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