Tuesday, December 1, 2009

[EQ] Understanding and operationalising empowerment

Understanding and operationalising empowerment

Cecilia Luttrell and Sitna Quiroz, with Claire Scrutton and Kate Bird

Working Paper 308
UK Overseas Development Institute - November 2009


Available online PDF [39p.] at: http://www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/4525.pdf

“……..This paper presents an overview of the different definitions of and conceptual approaches to empowerment.
It was produced for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) following publication of an independent evaluation of SDC’s application of empowerment approaches in its development programming.


Discussions around empowerment are commonly limited to activities associated with ‘economic’, ‘social’ and ‘political’ empowerment. Transforming power relations does require intervention in these different dimensions and levels, but this paper takes the debate beyond such a sectoral approach to explore a number of conceptual issues that have practical implications for the operationalisation of empowerment.


The main issues covered by the paper include:

• The recent history of the use of the term ‘empowerment’ in development;
• Different definitions and conceptual approaches to empowerment; and
• Various operational implications of these debates, including whether empowerment is viewed as a process or an outcome;
   how power operates; strategies for inclusion; and implications of working on empowerment with partners. ….”




1. Introduction

2. The history of debates surrounding empowerment

3. Empowerment as a process or an outcome?

4. Understanding power

5. The agency approach versus an emphasis on structure

6. Three ‘continuums’ of power: The Power Cube

7. Empowerment and implications for partnership

8. Empowerment: A multidimensional approach to poverty reduction


Annex 1: Linkages between rights-based approaches and empowerment

Annex 2: The Power Cube explained

Annex 3: The definition and operationalisation of empowerment in different development agencies

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