Women's empowerment and social innovation in childcare: the case of Barcelona, Spain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Social innovation and empowerment are complex concepts that, from an analytical point of view, are not necessarily related. One explicit goal of social innovation is to empower communities, as well as the individuals that are involved in activities within those communities, but this does not necessarily always occur. Here we address the question 'Does social innovation in early childhood education and care (ECEC) empower women?' First, we explore whether the projects we examine can be defined as social innovations. Second, we analyse to what extent arrangements that are identified as innovative in ECEC empower the mothers who choose them. We argue that if the characteristics of a particular social innovation project enhance or reinforce the capabilities of the women who participate in it, that experience will most probably empower them; if not, this is unlikely to occur. Our empirical material includes 37 interviews with key informants, educators, and mothers involved in these non-institutionalized projects, collected in Barcelona. Our results reveal the socioeconomic bias in these projects, as well as the costs derived for both sets of participants (mothers and educators). They also show the wider social impact that stems from these projects being under-regulated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-519
Number of pages27
JournalEuropean Societies
Issue number4
Early online dateJun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2022


  • Barcelona
  • Early years education and care
  • Ecec
  • Social innovation
  • Women's empowerment


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