White paper: A conceptual model on women and girls' empowerment
Amsterdam : Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)
Number of pages
External research report
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
This White Paper defines empowerment of women and girls as 'the expansion of choice and strengthening of voice through the transformation of power relations, so women and girls have more control over their lives and futures'. Empowerment is both a process and an outcome. This White Paper presents a conceptual model on women and girls' empowerment, and has been developed by KIT Gender for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The model is informed by existing empowerment frameworks and approaches. It builds on the long history of theory and practice in women and girls’ empowerment, existing operational frameworks and critical reflections on how these frameworks have been operationalised over the past 20 years and what can be learnt from this wealth of experience. The model asserts that expanding women and girls’ choice and voice engages directly with how power operates as a force in their lives; empowerment challenges disempowerment and the systemic constraints on women’s and girls’ choice and voice. These constraints are due to gender relations and how they intersect with age, class, ethnicity, caste, religion, sexual orientation, race and other social markers. Transformation of power relations occurs through women and girls exercising agency and taking action. It entails a redistribution of resources towards women and girls and a shift in the institutional structures that shape their choices and voice. Women and girls' decision-making, leadership and collective action are central to empowerment processes. Additionally advancing gender equality and empowerment of women and girls also calls for the active engagement of men and boys.
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