Empowerment is a concept used extensively in a wide range of applications and human interaction. To understand empowerment, first power dynamics need to be understood, which is an area too intensive for this piece. The basics of power dynamics is that: a) they are always occurring and b) the disempowered individual will naturally seek to empower themselves.
Without maturity, skill, development and understanding of the dynamics in effect, humans seek to ‘take’ power by disempowering others. Without empowerment principles in effect, people seek to feel empowered by disempowering others, which is of course temporary.
From this point exploitation is an essential component of existing within this power dynamic and reducing the amount of time as the ‘disempowered underdog’.
How the principles of empowering individuals is effective, is that they eliminate the need to seek power by taking from and exploiting others, by an individual first using empowering principles, which fosters the empowerment of others and further reduces the need of exploitation in the power dynamic. It is a skill, something which can be learned and applied when required.
Empowerment is essential in the pursuit of self determination, and has become an essential approach for achieving effective outcomes for a diverse range of stakeholders within communities and societies globally. From governments to business, from trade and economics, from therapists and doctors, teachers and students, parents and children – absolutely everyone benefits from using empowerment principles in managing human power dynamics.
But what makes it so effective? To understand why it is so powerful, we must first learn to understand and value what feminism has achieved within our communities and how the empowerment of women impacts the empowerment of men, children and our societies.
“The concept social individuality (Griscom, 1992) makes the feminist dialectics explicit. The woman is an individual within the social reality in which she grows up and develops with the contradictions between her and society. According to this holistic view, the separation between self, others, and community, is artificial, because these three create one another within a single complex whole. The powerlessness of one woman, which changes by means of her activism in collaboration with others in her situation, is a process that empowers the entire community of women”.~ Elisheva Sadan
Empowerment is not something that can necessarily be given to others. It is an opportunity which is accepted by an individual by providing the space for people to be who they essentially are – free from demands and constraints without ever requiring anything of them. It is also about humility and taking the risk of giving others the opportunity of self determination ahead of our own.
It was feminism which bought these principles out of the imagination and into reality within modern history. It is feminism which maintains the essential components of empowering women and the consistent flow on effect within our worlds.
If feminism is not valued and respected within our communities we are devaluing the right of self determination of all members of our societies– including ourselves, regardless of our gender.
Elisheva Sadan – Chapter 3 – Developing a Theory of Empowerment
Retrieved August 2013