Understanding Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR): A Guide

Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) offers a powerful approach for research and activism that empowers marginalized groups, especially women. Here’s a simple guide to unpack this increasingly influential research methodology that’s making waves across the globe.

What is FPAR? 

FPAR emerged as a research methodology guided by feminist principles and aspirations for real-world change. While FPAR’s origins trace back to mid-20th century concepts like Lewin’s action research, the integration of an explicit feminist lens occurred in the 1980s and 90s. FPAR centers gender justice, challenges traditional power imbalances, and seeks to reshape oppressive conditions often faced by women and marginalized communities.

Why is FPAR Impactful? 

FPAR enables transformative applications worldwide. Let’s look at some real-world applications of FPAR:

  • Climate Justice: FPAR has been crucial in allowing grassroots women in Asia to highlight the effects of climate change and advocate for rights-based solutions.
  • Sports & Indigenous Communities: In Canada, FPAR has shed light on how indigenous young women approach sports, ensuring their voices and strategies are heard and valued.
  • Decolonizing Research: FPAR was used in Peru as a way for Andean women, often marginalized in research, to create knowledge that challenges mainstream narratives.
  • Urban Environmental Management: From Argentina to Australia, FPAR has played a role in exploring urban environmental management, particularly emphasizing women’s contributions to their local environment.

FPAR in Action by Women’s Groups

Organizations like the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) have harnessed the power of FPAR to delve into the impacts of climate change on marginalized women across several Asian countries. Their projects have resulted in tangible changes, from influencing adaptation strategies to improving labor conditions.

Similarly, Plan International tapped into FPAR to explore how climate change affects young girls’ education opportunities in African countries. Findings revealed challenges like increased chores, but also showcased education’s potential to empower girls as climate activists.

Key Principles of FPAR 

Despite diverse applications, core FPAR principles emerge in the literature:

  • Collaboratively creating knowledge, using methods that involve the community.
  • Raising awareness of underlying issues and oppressions.
  • Breaking down traditional power dynamics inherent in research.
  • Empowering often-excluded groups to craft solutions based on their lived experiences.

FPAR isn’t just research for the sake of knowledge. It’s about movement building, amplifying voices that often go unheard, and fostering collective action for gender justice. As more and more researchers and organizations adopt FPAR, it promises a future where marginalized women have a significant hand in shaping solutions grounded in their real-world experiences.



To learn more about FPAR applications across diverse contexts, delve into the literature landscape brief showcasing studies on FPAR for climate justice, girls’ empowerment, decolonizing research, and other critical gender issues worldwide.

Read the brief here! 

This blog and the corresponding brief were written by Trimita Chakma. To read all of the resources compiled by Trimita and Bea Moraras as part of the Technical Guidance and Data Mapping consultancy, see A Snapshot of Gender-Environment Data.

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