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A critical examination of girls’ (dis)empowerment in sport for development and peace.

Prince, S.-D., 2019. A critical examination of girls’ (dis)empowerment in sport for development and peace. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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PRINCE, Samantha-Danielle_Ph.D._2018.pdf



In recent years, women’s and girls’ development has taken centre stage within the sport for development and peace (SDP) movement so much so that some scholars have referred to the attention on women and girls as the ‘girling of development’ (Hayhurst 2013a; Chawansky 2011). Amongst the increasing number of programmes targeted at women’s and girl’s development within SDP and the broader development sector, the term ‘empowerment’ regularly features as a desirable outcome (Lindsey et al. 2017; Hancock et al. 2013). Most notably, international development agencies such as the United Nations have emphasised their backing for empowerment within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) where SDG number 5 is to ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ (United Nations Sustainable Development 2015). Despite the increasing number of sport-based empowerment programmes targeted at women and girls globally, very few academic studies have explored precisely how participation in SDP programmes empowers women and girls or whether participation leads to their disempowerment. As a result, development agencies, policy makers and practitioners have continued to offer unfounded and ambitious claims regarding sport’s potential for empowering women and girls. This qualitative study aimed to provide an in-depth and critical understanding of girls’ (dis)empowerment by examining two National Governing Organisations (NGO) in Rwanda. Drawing on Critical Feminist Theory and Zimmerman’s (1995, 1990) conceptualisation of empowerment, concepts such as gender, empowerment and power were unpacked and critically examined in the context of SDP. Multiple methods of data collection were used to achieve the aim including a document analysis, a research journal and fourteen in-depth semi-structured interviews with practitioners working for NGOs. Significant attention was paid to the researcher’s reflexivity, given the limited time spent in the field collecting data (21 days), and practical strategies for mitigating the limitations of the research were discussed. The study uncovered programme mechanisms and social processes that enabled girls to increase their capabilities to improve control over important life matters as well as those which served to disempower girls because of participation in SDP. Empowering programme mechanisms included designing a critical pedagogy, recruiting local Rwandan coaches to deliver sessions and creating a supportive environment to foster mutual and peer support. Disempowering mechanisms were those which reproduced harmful power relations between volunteers from the G lobal North and girls participating in the programme. The findings also revealed the presence of complex contextual mechanisms related to fostering girls’ empowerment including the role of family and the values embedded in cultural philosophies. In light of the primary findings, this study advocates the requirement for NGOs to develop a critical and holistic understanding of the culture and context which effect girls’ (dis)empowerment. The identification of programme and contextual mechanisms provide crucial insight into the relationships between gender, empowerment and SDP in research and practice. Overall, this study produced new trajectories for the conceptualisation and implementation of SDP programmes to foster dimensions of girls’ empowerment and prevent their disempowerment.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:sport; gender; empowerment; development; africa
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:32108
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:28 Mar 2019 11:02
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:15


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