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Overview

This article explores findings from a qualitative case study on how young adults living in tea plantations in rural, up-country Sri Lanka identify and challenge community gender norms, and seeks to understand the role of educational development programmes in advancing gender equality. The study involved qualitative in-depth interviews, conducted over a period of two months, of young alumni and staff of a local nongovernment organisation that focused on rural youth education and employment in the area. With the support of the organisation, these youth – the majority of whom are female and from low-income backgrounds – have identified and are working to address many gender inequalities within their community. The article also seeks to understand how the organisation works within societal constraints, such as social and cultural norms, education, and family expectations, to advocate for the young women in this community. Participants of the study described major challenges to gender equality, as well as the strategies used to combat these issues. This article presents the organisation as a case study of rural youth empowering their peers through non-formal education and employment training, as told through the voices of its alumni and staff.

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10.1080/13552074.2018.1523288

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