With the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on gender equality and women’s empowerment, debates around empowerment of women find themselves at a critical juncture of
donor preferences, programmatic and movement activity and the lived experiences of women.
This introductory article summarises some of the primary debates surrounding women’s empowerment across three lines: economic empowerment and its links with poverty reduction – focusing on the intersections between paid work and unpaid care work; social empowerment in terms of changes in gender norms and values; and political empowerment and mobilisation.
The interconnectedness of these three domains of empowerment is important to bear in mind while looking ahead – especially with high levels of intersecting inequalities and power structures that prevent the realisation of empowerment.
We conclude that a process of collective notion of empowerment that focuses on addressing structural inequality and accords primacy to women’s own agency, would go a long way towards expanding women’s opportunities and choices – in other words, realising women’s empowerment in a meaningful way.