Educating Pakistan’s daughters: girls’ citizenship education and the reproduction of cultural violence in Pakistan

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This article draws from a case study exploring the link between girls’ citizenship education and identity-based violence. The research was conducted in a girls’ government secondary school in Islamabad, Pakistan. The data was collected through participant observation, qualitative interviews and a participatory workshop with 23 school staff, as well as focus groups with 33 students. The focus of this paper is on how school practice – the day-to-day activities that happen in and out of the classroom – reproduces a gendered and classed notion of citizenship. Drawing on Galtung’s (1969; 1990) violence triangle, I then link the findings to the implications for violence against women.

The findings indicate that for the urban middle-class girls of the case study school, citizenship is entwined with historical constructions of nationalist and religious notions of womanhood. Citizenship education teaches girls that their duty to the state is located in the private sphere of the home, as mothers and wives, while excluding them from the rights associated with citizenship that are located in the male dominated public sphere. These notions of unequal citizenship were evident in the responses from both teachers and students about the roles of women in creating a more peaceful Pakistan. Most of the teachers (all of whom are women) and students indicated that they had limited agency to affect change outside of an ability to influence their children and husbands. I argue that citizenship education in this school serves as a form of gendered cultural violence as it discourages girls from affecting change on the social structures that disempower them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-309
Number of pages18
JournalStudies in Social Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2018


  • Pakistan
  • girls' education
  • citizenship education
  • cultural violence
  • school practice
  • hidden curriculum


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