Assessing Empowerment at
the National Level in Eastern
Europe and Central Asia
Over the past two decades, the concept of poverty has gradually been broadened from a narrow income or expenditure focus to include health, education, and social and political participation. ‘World Development Report 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty brought this enhanced concept firmly into the policy sphere by proposing a poverty reduction strategy based on promoting opportunity, facilitating empowerment, and enhancing security (World Bank 2000c). The implications of this strategy for World Bank operations were discussed by the institution’s Board of Executive Directors in June 2001 (World Bank 2002b). The tools to facilitate empowerment in practice were further explored in the Bank’s Empowerment and Poverty Reduction: A Sourcebook (Narayan 2002).
One aspect that has hindered the integration of the empowerment notion in poverty analysis is the difficulty of measuring empowerment and progress in enhancing it. The purpose of this chapter is to suggest a number of indicators that can be used to quantify empowerment and to illustrate this in the case of nine countries in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region. The selected countries are those that participate in the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) process and are thus among the poorest in the region: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. For comparative purposes, corresponding indicators are given for five other countries in the ECA region and for three countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The proposed indicators cover both the micro and macro levels, since empowerment requires action at the levels of the household, the community, and the state. Data are not yet available for all