The Challenge of Political Empowerment
Think piece UNRISD capacity.org
Peter Utting, mars 2012
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In the struggle over ideas in the development arena, terms that are associated with more radical perspectives are often picked up by mainstream actors and organisations. And this has been the case with ‘empowerment’. But such mainstreaming can cause original meanings to be modified or become obscure. From the perspective of strategies that aim to improve the well-being of small-scale farmers, there are various risks inherent in the way the term ‘empowerment’ has been taken up by international and bilateral development agencies.
Such agencies increasingly emphasise the importance of economic empowerment. However, unless accompanied by the access to resources and opportunities that foster political empowerment, a focus solely on economic empowerment runs the risk of misreading the causes of poverty – and will prove wanting as a poverty reduction strategy.
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