This paper explores Muslim women's experiences of empowerment in northern Pakistan by drawing upon the life history of a woman informant named Dana. It also outlines some of the methodological concerns related with researching empowerment in a situation where the researchers and the researched share common context. The paper re-conceptualises the utility of empowerment by unveiling it as an intricate process, which involves the negotiation of roles, responsibilities and values by individuals. The findings evidence that empowerment is not always exhibiting absolute power over others or open defiance against standard norms; neither is it resistance against coercion at all times. Instead it is also about strategically acting in a way that makes women feel more secure within particular circumstances. Importantly, since the process of being empowered involves constant personal labour, pain of being denied respect and dignity it is not as glorious as depicted in the dominant development discourse.