In a nutshell: EMPOWERMENT

What does it mean to be empowered? In our latest ‘In a nutshell’, we look at this term and why we need to be careful about how we use it.


‘Empowerment’ is arguably one of the most overused words in development.

Some charities say that they “empower local people”. We need to be careful with how we use this word. If we have ‘power over’ other people, it exploits and oppresses but if we have ‘power with’ others, it can lead to actions that liberate.

If I say that I empower someone, it actually suggests that I have the ability to change their lives and they don’t. In other words, the power lies with me. This is not true empowerment.

Yes, we can offer the tools, skills or knowledge to help people empower themselves but we cannot truly empower them. This may seem like semantics but WDR only works with partners who facilitate local people empowering themselves, gaining control over their own destinies and not being reliant upon outsiders.


Click here to learn more about our partners.