Progress on women's empowerment: from technical fixes to political action

Working and discussion papers
November 2014
Tam O'Neil, Pilar Domingo and Craig Valters
Introducing our work on women's empowerment, this paper looks at the concept and how it is put into action, as well as ways in which the development community can contribute to progress in women's empowerment. The key messages are:

Women’s empowerment is a process of personal and social change through which they gain power, meaningful choices and control over their lives.

There are many pathways to women’s empowerment but important enabling conditions include women’s collective action, constitutional and legal reform, social and economic policy measures, and changes in socio-cultural norms.

Empowerment is not something that can be done to or for women. Women are the agents of their empowerment.

To contribute to progress on women’s empowerment, the international community must support the political actions of women and their allies to change gender and other power hierarchies.