We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Opening Minds, Improving Lives

Education and Women's Empowerment in Honduras

Erin MurphyGraham

Publication Year: 2012

Juanita was seventeen years old and pregnant with her first child when she began an activity that would "open" her mind. Living in a remote Garifuna village in Honduras, Juanita had dropped out of school after the sixth grade. In 1996, a new educational program, Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (Tutorial Learning System or SAT), was started in her community. The program helped her see the world differently and open a small business.

Empowering women through education has become a top priority of international development efforts. Erin MurphyGraham draws on more than a decade of qualitative research to examine the experiences of Juanita and eighteen other women who participated in the SAT program. Their narratives suggest the simple yet subtle ways education can spark the empowerment process, as well as the role of men and boys in promoting gender equality.

Drawing on indepth interviews and classroom observation in Honduras and Uganda, MurphyGraham shows the potential of the SAT program to empower women through expanded access and improved quality of secondary education in Latin America and Africa. An appendix provides samples of the classroom lessons.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (574.8 KB)
pp. c-ii

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (435.1 KB)
pp. iii-vi

Table of Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF (428.9 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (441.9 KB)
pp. ix-xiv

Twelve years ago I volunteered to participate in a two-week evaluation of the SAT—Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (Tutorial Learning System)—program in Honduras. My assignment during the evaluation was to explore the ways in which the SAT program empowered women. This took me much, much longer than two weeks, and many...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (461.6 KB)
pp. 1-8

The billboard catches my eye as I dash to the departure gate at the Newark airport. Half of a woman’s face—her dark brown skin, oval-shaped eye, and stoic expression—peeks out from under a bright yellow headscarf. The text scrawled across the black background reads, “I am powerful.”...

read more

1. On Gender, Education, and Empowerment

pdf iconDownload PDF (528.9 KB)
pp. 9-29

Napoleana is a single mother in her midforties. She lives in a simple concrete house with her adolescent son in one of the Honduran villages where this study was conducted. The house belongs to her sister and brother-in-law, who live in New York City. Napoleana separated from the father of her son after living with him for about a year. She explained...

read more

2. SAT as Empowering Education

pdf iconDownload PDF (512.2 KB)
pp. 30-50

Martín, a lanky twelve-year-old boy with caramel-colored skin and close-cropped brown hair, stood next to me outside the classroom in the hot sun. “How is it going in SAT?” I asked. It was a question I had posed to many SAT students, but Martín’s response, so concise yet so profound, lingers with me years later....

read more

3. "SAT Came to My Feet, It Came to My Doorstep": Understanding the Context of SAT Implementation in Honduras

pdf iconDownload PDF (621.5 KB)
pp. 51-70

In May 2008, I spoke at a workshop exploring SAT as a strategy for poverty alleviation during the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Participants in the workshop, including representatives from several countries in Africa, wanted to know how they could start SAT in their home countries. FUNDAEC currently supports the work of local organizations...

read more

4. "My Mind Is Different": Developing Confidence and Critical Perspectives through SAT

pdf iconDownload PDF (651.4 KB)
pp. 71-92

“Whatever I learned I’ve already forgotten,” Margarita explained sheepishly when I asked about her participation in SAT. She was in the program for only about three months, and so she did not have much to tell me about her experience. Margarita dropped out of SAT for a good reason: an offer to work in San Pedro Sula. She was excited...

read more

5. Taking Life by the Reins: Steps toward Self- and Social Betterment

pdf iconDownload PDF (592.3 KB)
pp. 93-109

Leticia walked across the lobby of the hotel in Tegucigalpa where we had agreed to meet. I was delighted to finally see her in person after multiple rounds of telephone tag. Leticia had been living in Tegucigalpa for the last year, and I traveled to the city for our interview. She was enrolled as a student at one of the top national universities. Her goal is to...

read more

6. Behind Closed Doors: Examining the Influence of Education on Women's Intimate Relationships

pdf iconDownload PDF (598.3 KB)
pp. 110-132

“My husband comes from a family that has the idea that a woman’s place is at home and a man’s the street (la mujer es la de la casa y el hombre es de la calle).” Wilma and I sat together in the classroom where she taught, enjoying the cool ocean breeze that wafted through the windows. Wilma calmly and openly recounted the ways in which her relationship...

read more

7. Conclusion

pdf iconDownload PDF (618.8 KB)
pp. 133-152

Women’s empowerment is an appealing concept. The phrase is sprinkled throughout contemporary international development policies and reports, examples of which are represented in the chapter epigraphs. Often coupled with gender equality, women’s empowerment is seen as a goal of development efforts in and of itself and as a means to accomplishing...

read more

Epilogue: SAT in Africa

pdf iconDownload PDF (495.3 KB)
pp. 153-168

To respond to the interest being shown in a number of countries worldwide to adopt SAT, FUNDAEC modified the curriculum for use in Asia and Africa (and translated the textbooks into English). The resulting program is called Preparation for Social Action, or PSA. There is a great deal of overlap between PSA and SAT, as students study very similar...

Appendix: Examples from SAT/PSA Textbooks

pdf iconDownload PDF (767.5 KB)
pp. 169-194


pdf iconDownload PDF (438.2 KB)
pp. 195-198

Works Cited

pdf iconDownload PDF (463.3 KB)
pp. 199-210


pdf iconDownload PDF (457.4 KB)
pp. 211-218

E-ISBN-13: 9780826518309
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826518286

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012