Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Empowerment of women: according to Western donors

"When non-Western women already have strong political identities, their removal is sometimes required even if it involves pushing them back into the very roles from which empowerment was meant to deliver them. In Sri Lanka, a former soldier for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam told one of my co-authors that she and other ex-fighters were offered classes in cake decorating, hairstyling and sewing. A government official confessed that despite years of training programs, she had never seen any of the women earn a living from these skills. It’s time for a change to the “empowerment” conversation. Development organizations’ programs must be evaluated on the basis of whether they enable women to increase their potential for political mobilization, such that they can create sustainable gender equality. On the global stage, a return to this original model of empowerment requires a moratorium on reducing non-Western women to the circumstances of their victimhood — the rape survivor, the war widow, the child bride. The idea that development goals and agendas should be apolitical must be discarded."