Empowerment - What does it mean to you? What does it look like?

Posted January 28, 2016 from United States

Gladys Shumbambiriwrote a post defining empowerment, this is a great place to start, with a definition.

“Empowerment is the process of enhancing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes”(www.ask.com)

Empowerment also refers to “‘increasing the economic, political, social, educational, gender, or spiritual strength of individuals and communities”.(wikipedia)

I would also like to include the business dictionary definition:Amanagementpracticeof sharinginformation,rewards, andpowerwithemployeesso that they can takeinitiativeand makedecisionsto solveproblemsandimproveserviceandperformance.http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/empowerment.html

The business definition states a practice - replacing employees with citizens it can be applied to communities/societies - where the rewards are outcomes

I have worked with several empowerment programs in many different capacities, program developer, teacher, facilitator, mentor, etc. We've been brainstorming the attributes/needs of empowered women including:

- awareness

- access to information

- access to skill training

- access to mentorship, development, and feedback

- access to opportunities to practice/refine skills

I've witness several times within programs for homeless women a shift from unempowered to empowered - there was a gradual increase in confidence and self-advocacy (through programmed activities that included education, support, access to information, counseling, career skill development, etc).

What does being economically empowered mean? What traits does a women have when she is considered economically empowered? What skills does she have, what knowledge does she possess? How does she act demonstrating she is economically empowered?

Please share your thoughts!


Comments 6

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Terry Shiundu
Jan 28, 2016
Jan 28, 2016

Hi Marne,

Thanks for this thought-provoking discussion. Economic empowerment for a woman could mean several things, i would point oput a few:

1. That she financially equiped whether through business or employment to take care of her needs and that of her family (children)

2. That she's able to make decisions regarding how to spend money, invest, give or save without depending on someone else to make those decsions. In case of a married woman, she's able to contribute to decisions on where the money goes and how its spend.

3. That she can contribute to society whether through giving information, suppoorting women groups, providing mentorship, etc.

An economically empowered woman, has strong work ethic, is not lazy, but is hardworking, she stands out because she knows what she is doing and is actually doing it. She takes care of her family and is focused on progress. She looks for opportunities to invest but also to give back to society. She is confident, and once empowered, you can be sure the returns will flow not only to her family but the society as well.

Just my thoughts....


Sarah Murali
Mar 03, 2016
Mar 03, 2016

Thanks so much for your ideas on this topic, Terry! I love how you higlight the importance of married women having a say in how the family's money is spent. So critical!

Feb 01, 2016
Feb 01, 2016

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights Terry!  Tell me more about what it means to be financially equiped.  Does this mean a woman has an understanding of her expenses and income?  Is there more to it than that?  Does she have an understanding of credit and how loans work?


Tiffany Purn
Feb 04, 2016
Feb 04, 2016

Marne - 

I love this question.  

When I think about empowerment, among other things, I think about choice.  And the ability to be "at the cause" of something.  At the cause of creating a new relationship to money, for example. At the cause of choosing how and where to spend my money.  At the cause of understanding my thinking about money.  And how to change my thinking about money - if I want to. 

For me personally, this translates to understanding barriers that my family and/or culture has handed down to me about money.  For example, this idea that my worth is in any way related to how much money I make or don't make.  Or the idea that if I follow my heart, I shouldn't be able to also make money doing what I love to do and am passionate about (abundance!!).  Or the idea that having more money will necessarily make me happier in my life, as long as my core and basic needs are met. 

I am currently understanding how I spend my money and looking at whether this aligns with my real values.  It's been so interesting to see how usually there is a lot of alignment. But not always!

I imagine that our definitions and how we think about economic empowerment are as diverse as our individual stories and the places that we live.  So I really hope to hear from others, as well.   How awesome it would be to learn from and with each other!!

Mar 04, 2016
Mar 04, 2016

This is what our  life is all about. We stand for Women’ Health, Education and Economic Empowerment  , and we are real enjoying it . When I think about Economic empowernemt , step one is not about Money rather than mind set.

step 2 is about preparing the  mind set of our fellow  women and  girls so that they are aware about the system set into the communities which has drove  women to make casual decisions for their economic freedom.

Step 3, is about preparing Women to hold power not holding position.

Once these steps are reached then we will talk about Economic empowerment for Women.

I will avail my self and explain each step and providing more examples so that our Readers can have a deep understanding on how women can become empowered economically for ever.

On the behalf of Videfi NGO, Cape Town South Africa team

 '' Women’ Health, Education and Economic Empowerment are the driving forces behind our ideology ‘’

Mar 18, 2016
Mar 18, 2016

'WHY SHOULD I PAY LOBOLA'' in 2 months, this article will be published.Making sure that Women has an understanding of why Lobola was paid before she was taken into other family, The article will reveal who is your husband, is him your muster or friend?. The article will twist your mind and you will actual have a clear understand of what you are expected to do in the marriage and why. Please follow us on our social network whereby we will inform our audience which site they should view and read the article. '' Women’ Health, Education and Economic Empowerment are the driving forces behind our ideology ‘’