Empowerment in Practice: From Analysis to Implementation

Empowerment in Practice: From Analysis to Implementation

Empowerment in Practice: From Analysis to Implementation

Empowerment in Practice: From Analysis to Implementation

Synopsis

'This document offers an excellent explanation of the concept of empowerment and develops a very useful framework for disentangling and clarifying the concept. It is both practical and well justified on the basis of the literature. The approach and survey instruments developed to measure empowerment are innovative and very useful. Developing an approach to empirically measure empowerment, and to track empowerment indicators over time in a way that is operationally feasible and consistent with World Bank standards is certainly an outstanding achievement.'--Reginer Birner, Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D. C.

Excerpt

People in all walks of life often have difficult choices to make—but for some the range of options is more restricted than for others. In remote villages and urban communities, many women, men, and children have limited choices available to them, resulting in a daily struggle to simply survive. The poor in particular have limited employment opportunities, little voice in decision making over locally available resources, often lack basic services, have limited recourse to state-sponsored systems of justice, and are rarely able to exercise the right to hold their representatives accountable. These people suffer from inequality in terms of the power they have to change their lives and escape poverty. Some, such as women and excluded ethnic or social groups, are even more disempowered than others.

The World Bank, along with development partners in donor agencies, governments, and within civil society, recognizes that poverty reduction involves understanding and addressing the often complex processes that limit people’s capacity to make life-changing choices. It is necessary but insufficient for poverty alleviation to deliver services, to develop infrastructure, and raise income levels. Effective and sustainable development means designing policies and interventions that both build the stocks of assets people have at their disposal and ensure that the “rules of the game” operate to allow the transformation of these assets into poverty reducing benefits.

The model for understanding and operationalizing an empowerment approach to development presented in this volume is simple. The book translates a long-standing academic discourse on structure and agency into an actionable framework that can, in practice, help change power relations and in turn reduce poverty. Using the concepts of asset-based agency and institution-based opportunity structure, this empowerment framework can be applied across dimensions of both action and analysis. As such it provides an instrument to help policy makers and practitioners do their business better. As an analytic tool the framework also aids in tracking levels of empowerment and assessing progress made toward that end, as well as offering guidance on how to embed this analysis into broader povertymonitoring systems.

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