This article offers strategies for women’s empowerment in conservative, tribal, and religious environments, based on an innovative programme in Pakistan. Mainstreaming Gender and Development (MGD) encouraged participants to build on their communities’ strengths, minimised resistance among families and communities by including them in the development process, and succeeded in building a cadre of women activists. Drawing on its experience, the author questions the importance of collective action, suggests that the selection of participants should be based on aptitude rather than socio-economic status, and highlights the potential for women’s empowerment in challenging environments.
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