Empowerment refers to enabling people to take charge of their own lives. For women, empowerment emphasizes the importance of increasing their power and taking control over decisions and issues that shape their lives.
Women's empowerment addresses power and relationships in society intertwined with gender, class, race, ethnicity, age, culture and history. Power is identified with equity and equality for women and men in access to resources, participation in decision-making and control over distribution of resources and benefits. Gender equality is addressed at these different levels with the aim of increasing equality between men and women, and achieving women's empowerment.
Access to resources refers to both the means and the right to obtain services, products or commodities. Gender gaps in access to resources and services are a major obstacle to women's development. The process of empowerment includes mobilizing women to eliminate these gaps.
A cornerstone of gender equality is women's equal participation in decision-making. Collective participation is also one of the essential aspects of women's empowerment. Participation in decision-making is integrated with conscientization - the process of raising awareness among women about gender discrimination and the resulting oppression it creates for women as a social group.
Through this process, women collectively analyse various aspects of gender inequality that they face. This process constitutes women's development and becomes the basis for action to overcome and dismantle gender inequality in the control of resources. Achieving control is an essential element of women's empowerment which includes the ability to direct or to influence events to protect one's own interests.
Control makes it possible for women to ensure that resources and benefits are distributed so that men and women get equal shares. This framework is particularly useful in understanding and evaluating the...