Empowerment examined

'Empowerment' is a term often used in development work, but rarely defined. This article explores the meaning of empowerment, in the context of its root-concept, power. Different understandings of what constitutes power lead to a variety of interpretations of empowerment, and hence to a range of implications for development policy and practice. 'Empowerment' terminology makes it possible to analyse power, inequality and oppression; but to be of value in illuminating development practice, the concept requires precise and deliberate definition and use. This article is freely available as a chapter in Development with Women.