Measuring Empowerment: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives

By Deepa Narayan | Go to book overview

Chapter 15
The CIVICUS Civil Society
Index

Carmen Malena and Volkhart Finn Heinrich

Other chapters of this volume explore how empowerment can be measured at the individual, household, community, and local levels. This chapter presents the CIVICUS Civil Society Index project (CSI) as an example of an effort to measure empowerment at the national level in a way that allows international comparison.1

The chapter begins by exploring the concepts of empowerment and civil society and clarifying links between them. It then introduces the CSI and examines the features that distinguish it from other efforts to assess civil society, in particular from an empowerment perspective. The chapter next describes in greater detail the content of the CSI (that is, exactly what it seeks to measure) and explains the participatory research and scoring methodology, emphasizing the importance of the CSI as an empowerment process in its own right as well as a measurement tool. Although the CSI is still in its implementation phase and country findings are not yet available, the chapter concludes with some preliminary observations and a review of key operational challenges for the future.


The Concepts of Empowerment
and Civil Society

To “empower” simply means to “enable” or “give power to.” In order to give operational meaning to the concept, one must specify the empowerment of whom to do what. The World Bank’s Empowerment and Poverty Reduction: A Sourcebook specifies that it is concerned with the empowerment “of poor people to participate in, negotiate with, influence,

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