With the formulation of the first ever internationally agreed stand-alone goal on gender equality, debates around women’s empowerment are at a critical juncture. This IDS Bulletin makes a timely contribution to the understanding of how ideas around empowerment have evolved and how we can move forward to expand women’s opportunities and choices and realise women’s empowerment in a meaningful way.
Ultimately this IDS Bulletin reminds us that empowerment – implying an expansion of opportunities and the power to make choices – can only be realised through a collective, rather than individualised notion of empowerment that focuses on addressing structural inequality and inequitable power relations, and gives primacy to women’s agency in negotiating and challenging these structures.
The Bulletin features articles written by Pathways members and previously published in the Negotiating Empowerment, Reclaiming Feminism and Quotas: Add Women and Stir Bulletins. The issue also features a new introduction by Deepta Chopra and Catherine Muller summarises some of the primary debates surrounding women’s empowerment across three lines: economic empowerment and its links with poverty reduction – focusing on the intersections between paid work and unpaid care work; social empowerment in terms of changes in gender norms and values; and political empowerment and mobilisation.