Course Title: MSc Global Prosperity
Dissertation Title: Spaces that Empower Women Learners – The relationship between built environment, empowerment and learning of vulnerable women
Community Partner: Olivia Darby, The Wonder Foundation
Academic Supervisor: Hannah Sender
Research Abstract: With conversations about women’s empowerment becoming more common, it is even more important that we discuss and look at the empowerment of women in social development settings, who are at risk of being most vulnerable to poverty, violence, and harassment. Research has found that the development sector’s empowerment programmes aim to prepare women to respond to their current and future circumstances so that women can achieve things they value and not just maximize income, within which great emphasis has been placed on formal and informal learning. Given its importance for empowerment of women, scholars have investigated various factors that impact learning of women and girls, and one such factor is the built environment of learning spaces. This research aims to look at the relationship between built environment and empowerment & learning for vulnerable women. The study will explore how vulnerable women who are part of social projects experience the built spaces they are provided to learn in. The research aims to define ‘empowering’ spaces, explore the built environment of empowering learning spaces, how they may differ from the concept of ‘safe spaces’, and what might hinder and organization’s ability to create such a space for their beneficiaries. This was done by using a mixed methods research design, utilizing a systematic literature review, a case study and expert interviews to explore views of various actors involved. Through primary and secondary data, the research was able to answer the research questions, and provide an operational definitions and factors for empowering spaces. The research also highlights recommendations for WONDER Foundation.