empowerment Definition

12 July 1397

Empowerment is not a new term to the United Nations. It is the process of enabling people to increase control over their lives, to gain control over the factors and decisions that shape their lives,

to increase their resources and qualities and to build capacities to gain access, partners, networks, a voice, in order to gain control.

“To me empowerment is about three dimensions: a) how the individual or community perceive(s) and judge(s) their capacity to play a role, b) the desire to play a meaningful role in society and c) the spaces and opportunities created and provided for the capacity to come to play. The first step is about making people realize their potential, existing specific knowledge and expertise and strengthen their capacity in various areas in order for an individual or community to play a meaningful role in their own or their community/society’s development and to make (life) choices. It’s about the subjective feeling (trusting yourself) as well as the discovery/realization of ones own capacities (based on the idea that absolutely everyone has something meaningful to contribute). The discovery of ones capacity and relevance for others can trigger a desire to actively shape ones environment. People feel empowered, because they realize that they can make a difference, which in turn makes them want to make a difference. A feeling of disempowerment often causes passivity. Moreover empowerment is of course related to the objective possibility and existing spaces to play a role and to be heard.” Simona Costanzo SOW Project Manager for the MDG/post 2015 project United Nations Volunteers

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