This theme cross-cuts the work of the other thematic groups and is concerned with making sense of processes of change that transform power relations and produce greater justice and equality, in order to inform efforts to bring about these kinds of positive changes.

Studies explore ways of conceptualising empowerment – what women, women’s rights movements and organizations, other social movements, governments, development donors and international organizations think ‘women’s empowerment’ is all about, and what it might mean in different locations and domains of women’s lives.

This work has sought to ground understandings of empowerment in theories about what makes change happen in women’s lives, individually and collectively, and foster conceptualisation that is rooted in diverse geopolitical contexts and realities.

This has included reflective practice and experimentation with methods and methodologies for researching and making visible such changes. Creative communications has been a vital part of this thematic group’s work, with research into and production of representations of women’s empowerment in photography, song, creative writing and film.

Listen to Andrea Cornwall, Director of the Pathways of Women's Empowerment programme, talking about the Conceptualising Empowerment theme.

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