Are we empowering women?

Santos, Cristina (2017). Are we empowering women? Policy in Focus, 14(1) pp. 7–9.



Ensuring that societies can function well while securing the rights of women within them to have opportunities and freedom to flourish as individuals in their own right is one of the most current social protection and development policy priorities. Recently, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have recognised gender equality and women’s impowerment as key to reducing inequalities, gender-based violence and poverty, giving women’s struggles a prominent perspective. While adequate policy and institutional change are fundamental underpinnings of the promotion of well-being for women and girls, this process lies at the core of complex, dynamic and intertwined social systems and beliefs. However, many policies and development programmes are designed within a neoliberal ethos which takes the woman, and not the social systems to which the woman belongs, as the key player responsible for driving change. Drawing on some experiences and evidence from developed and developing countries, and looking in particular at conditional cash transfer programmes (CCTs), we will revisit what it means to empower women as a process and as a goal. Should we empower women? And perhaps more importantly, are we empowering women?

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