This paper presented to 'Pathways: What are we Learning?' Conference held in Cairo from 20-24 January 2009 is derived from the authors’ larger project on policy discourses and practices on women's empowerment in Ghana by leading institutions and actors in the state, civil society and the donor community. The overall aim of the study is to understand and ultimately influence the conceptions of women's empowerment in Ghana, and the strategies and actions flowing from these. In this paper, the authors focus on the Ministry of Children and Women's Affairs (MOWAC), the designated central government agency for 'mainstreaming gender' into national development plans. Operationally, MOWAC sees itself as the coordinator and guide for other ministries and government agencies on gender issues and concerns. Textual analysis of MOWAC policy documents and in-depth interviews with differently located actors within the ministry allow the authors insights into interpretations of formal written policy and tacit working knowledge within the institution. In this investigation, they look for the explicit and implicit understandings of empowerment and disempowerment that inform official policy and everyday practice within MOWAC and collaborating government agencies.