Women’s Empowerment

Goal_3_UNMDG.27111532_stdIn 2000, world leaders came together at the UN Headquarters and adopted the United Nations Millenium Declaration, committing to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty, hunger, diseases affecting billions of people, and environmental damage, and to encourage nations to work on the advancement of education, maternal health and women’s empowerment.

From the meeting came the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDG) and a plan of action to implement and achieve such goals by 2015.

Millennium Development Goals

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Global Partnership for development

The UN MGD set to “eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education, no later than 2015”

So far, the gender gap in education has narrowed, yet disparities remain in regions with vast levels of marginalization and poverty, which along with gender discrimination, violence against girls and child marriage makes the education process a challenge.

On women’s empowerment, as stated in the EY Women’s Worldwide Leadership Index 2014, the gap has dramatically reduced in developed countries, and there is a vast number of women member of parliament and public figures; but on the other hand women in corporate jobs occupy only 25% of senior management positions, an interesting paradigm.

Regarding the labor market -outside the agricultural sector- has increased from 35 to 40% on a twenty year period (1990-2010) thought the overall figure is still under the 20% target in Northern Africa, Southand Wester Asia.

The UN Foundation and ExxonMobil Foundation got together to promote women’s economic advancement and increase their productivity and earnings worldwide, together, they created the “Women’s Economic Empowerment Roadmap.” The initiative aims to close the economic gap focusing on effective interventions to increase productivity and women’s participation in the economy by targeting contexts, backgrounds, and country scenarios, and not generalizations.

To watch the video on The Roadmap, click on the link: 

What is Empowerment?

Empowerment has to be seen as a multidimensional process of change in power relations and also as a goal itself. As a process, it is the enhancement of the natural capacity of an individual to make choices to transform their reality in their desired outcome.

Though the MGD set a goal for 2015, the agenda is still ongoing because the seed has been planted and  empowerment -as a goal per se- has enabled individuals to articulate their own goals and design the best path to achieve it, developing the necessary skills that would lead them to resources and new opportunities only if the nations keep the global effort.

A must read on Women’s Empowerment is this 1995 UNESCO report “Women, Education, and Empowerment: Pathways towards Autonomy” edited by Carolyn Medel-Anonuevo. The report is the result of the International Seminar on Women’s Education and Empowerment held in Hamburg in 1995 where they discussed a conceptual framework to understand “women’s empowerment”, what kind of indicators would reflect progress on the matter and diverse ways on the co-relation between education and empowerment.


For further reading I recommend “The Empowerment Process: Integrating Theory and Practice” by Jay A. Conger / Rabindra N. Kanungo (McGill University The Academy of Managment Review, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Jul. 1988), pp 471-482 Accessed thru JSTOR The article addresses the limitations of the concept despite the increased attention in Global forums, and provide a wider analytical framework including management and psychology literature.