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Akanksha A. Marphatia PhD

Akanksha A. Marphatia PhD

Research Associate and Post-doctoral Affiliate, Newnham College

Geographies of inequality; life-course approach; variability in women's marriage age and educational attainment, and its consequences for maternal and child outcomes; South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa

Akanksha Marphatia's research seeks to understand the persistence of early marriage in South Asian societies despite widespread recognition of its adverse consequences. Using a biosocial life-course approach, she investigates the social characteristics (autonomy, gender power relations) and physiological traits (nutrition, reproduction) associated with variability in educational attainment and women's marriage age in rural India and lowland Nepal. She also investigates the geographic distribution of these traits and how location may shape unequal access to resources and life opportunities.

Akanksha is currently a Research Associate on a 3-year project focusing on understanding variability in women's marriage age and it's consequences for maternal and child outcomes in lowland Nepal. The research project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. It is a collaborative effort between Dr Alice Reid (my PhD Supervisor, in the Cambridge Group for the History of Population & Social Structure), Dr Gabriel Amable (Geography, Cambridge University) and University College London (UCL, Institute of Child Health).

A broader goal of this, and previous research is to apply the evidence to inform public policy debate. Examples of efforts include positioning women's early marriage as a key public health priority; demonstrating how gender inequality is more important than conventional markers of economic growth in shaping child mortality and under-nutrition; discussing whether greater education is changing women's social status; and developing feminist macro-economic frameworks to better balance human development, economic stability and growth priorities.


  • 2018-: Research Associate, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2016-2017: Independent Researcher, custom-designing questionnaire on education, marriage age, and geography for longitudinal biomedical cohort follow-up studies in Nepal and Ethiopia
  • 2010-2011: Acting Director, International Education Team, ActionAid International, responsible for developing the strategic plan for education for >45 countries
  • 2005-2010: Senior Education Research and Policy Manager, ActionAid International, with work conducted across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
  • 2003-2004: Consultant, Education Policy Reform, World Bank in USA and Djibouti
  • Children UK, Catholic Relief Services, World Education in USA, India and Ghana
  • 2000-2003: Social Scientist, International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) in USA, Guinea, Mali and Morocco
  • 1998-2004: Consultant, Education and Gender; Macroeconomic policy, Save the 1994-1995: Consultant, Education Policy Reform, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in France, Japan and Kenya


  • 2016: PhD, Geography, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 2012: MPhil, Education, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 1999: EdM, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, USA
  • 1997: BA, French, San Francisco State University, USA with coursework at La Sorbonne and Nanterre University, France


  • 2013: Intensive Summer Course, Introductory Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK
  • 2012-2013: Training in Anthropometry, Institute of Child Health, University College London, UK and Cilento Park Genetic Project, Italy


  • Wells, JCK and Marphatia, AA (2018). 'An inter-generational perspective on social inequality in health and life opportunities: the maternal capital model' in Handbook of Biology and Society, Meloni, M., Fitzgerald, P., Lloyd, S. and Crosby, J., Eds. pp 561-586.
  • Marphatia AA, Amable G and Reid A. 'Women's under-age marriage matters for public health: A review of the broader health and social implications in South Asia.' (2017) Frontiers in Global Health, 5(269).
  • Marphatia, A., Wells, J., Devkumar, D., Saville, N, Reid, A., Costello, A., Manandhar, D., Osrin, D. (2016). 'Maternal phenotype, independent of family economic capital predicts educational attainment in lowland Nepalese children.' American Journal of Human Biology. 28(5), 687-698.
  • Marphatia, A., Cole, T. Grijalva-Eternod, C., and Wells, J. (2016) 'Associations of gender inequality with child malnutrition and mortality across 96 countries.' Submitted to Global Health, Epidemiology and Genomics, 1(e6): 1-8.
  • Marphatia, A. and Edge, K. (2015). 'Editorial: Participatory research and evaluation approaches in developing contexts: reviewing evidence on professional practice and capacity development,' Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, (27): 1-3
  • Edge, K. and Marphatia, A. (2015). 'Recalibrating baseline evidence in Burundi, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda: exploring the potential of multi-site, national-level stakeholder engagement in participatory evaluation.' Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, (27): 41-64
  • Montagnese C, Nutile T, Marphatia AA, Grijalva-Eternod CS, Siervo M, Ciullo M, Wells JC. (2014). 'Body composition, leg length and blood pressure in a rural Italian population: A test of the capacity-load model.' Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, 24(11): 1204-1212
  • Marphatia, A. and Moussié, R. (2013). 'A question of gender justice: Exploring the linkages between women's unpaid care work, education, and gender equality.' International Journal of Educational Development, 33(6): 585-594
  • Wells, JCK, Marphatia, A.A., Cole, T.J., and McCoy, D. (2012). 'Associations of economic and gender inequality with global obesity prevalence: understanding the female excess.' Social Science and Medicine, 75(3): 482-490
  • Ron-Balsera, M. and Marphatia, A. (2012). 'Do Public Private Partnerships Fulfil the Right to Education? An examination of the role of non-state actors in advancing equity, equality and justice' in The Global Governance of Education and Market Multilateralism. S. Robertson, K. Mundy and A. Verger, Eds. Edward Elgar Publishing, Chapter 11
  • Marphatia, A. (2010). 'The adverse effects of International Monetary Fund Programs on the Health and Education Workforce.' International Journal of Health Services, 40(1): 165-178
  • Struckler, D., Basu, S., Gilmore, S., Batniji, R., Ooms, G., Marphatia, A., Hammonds, R., and Mckee, M. (2010). 'An Evaluation of the International Monetary Fund's Claims about Public Health.' International Journal of Health Services, 20(2): 327-332

Select policy research reports published by United Nations Agencies and International Charity Organisations

  • Marphatia, A. (2011). 'Missing the mark on gender inequality: more of the same is not enough.' Newsletter for Beyond Access: Gender, Education and Development. Institute of Education-University of London (IoE), 27:9.
  • Marphatia, A., Edge, K., Legault, L. and Archer, D. (2010). 'The Role of Parents in Improving Learning Outcomes in Primary Schools in Burundi, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda: Politics of Participation.' IoE-London and ActionAid policy research report, London: UK
  • Marphatia, A., Legault, L., Edge, K., and Archer, D. (2010). 'The Role of Teachers in Improving Learning Outcomes in Primary Schools in Burundi, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda: Great Expectations, Little Support.' IoE-London and ActionAid policy research report, London: UK
  • Marphatia, A., Moussie, R., Ainger, A.M., Archer, D. (2007) 'Confronting the Contradictions: the IMF, wage bill ceilings and the case for teachers.' ActionAid, London: UK
  • Marphatia, A. (2005). 'Creating an Enabling Environment for Girls' Education.' United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, New York City: USA
  • Marphatia, A. (2005). 'Summary of the civil society e-discussion on the education report of the Task Force on Education and Gender Equality.' Toward Universal Primary Education: Investments, incentives, and institutions. Birdsall, N., Levine, R., and Ibrahim, A., (eds). UN Millennium Task Force on Education and Gender Equality, UN Millennium Project. UNDP, Earthscan: London, UK, 98-100
  • Marphatia, A. (2003). 'An Intergenerational Approach to Development: Bridging the Generation Gap.' International Center for Research on Women, Washington, DC:USA
  • Marphatia, A. (2002). 'Integrating Gender into the Level I Basic Education Curriculum in the Republic of Mali (Phase I).' WIDTECH/USAID, Washington DC:USA (Originally published in French)
  • Marphatia, A. (2000). WIDTECH Technical Assistance and Training Plan to the Ministry of Pre-university and Civic Education's Equity Committee in Guinea.' WIDTECH/USAID, Washington DC: USA (Originally published in French)


  • 2000 - present, guest lectures at Department of Geography and Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge; Institute of Education, University College London; Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto and Humber College, Canada
  • 2006-2007: Senior Research Associate, School of Public Health, Brunel University, UK
  • 2003-2004, Masters' Thesis Advisor, 'Girls' Education', John Hopkins University, School of Advanced and International Studies, USA
  • 1998-2000, Assistant Teacher, Primary Grade 1 and Adult Literacy Tutor to native and second language students, USA