‘Empowerment’ is a term often used in development work, but rarely defined. This article explores the meaning of empowerment, in the context of its root-concept: power. Different understandings of what constitutes power lead to a variety of interpretations of empowerment, and hence to a range of implications for development policy and practice. ‘Empowerment’ terminology makes it possible to analyse power, inequality, and oppression; but to be of value in illuminating development practice, the concept requires precise and deliberate definition and use.
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