Women’s Empowerment: What Works and Why?
This paper draws on a multi-country research programme to explore pathways of positive change in women’s lives
Revisiting foundational feminist work on the concept of empowerment from the 1980s and 1990s, this paper draws on the findings of a multi-country research programme, ‘Pathways of Women’s Empowerment’, to explore pathways of positive change in women’s lives, in diverse contexts, and to draw together some lessons for policy and practice. It begins with an account of women’s empowerment in development, tracing some key ideas that have shaped feminist engagement with empowerment in theory and practice. It then introduces the Pathways programme and its methodological approach, before turning to each of Pathways’ themes, exploring key findings from our research and highlighting examples of ‘what works’. It goes on to narrate a series of stories of change that illustrate some of the dynamics and dimensions of change identified in our conclusions. Drawing out the principal lessons, the paper concludes with reflections on implications for development policy and practice.
Cornwall, A. Women’s Empowerment: What Works and Why? UNU-WIDER, Helsinki, Finland (2014) 33 pp. [WIDER Working Paper No. 2014/104]