To eradicate poverty and better people’s quality of life, we must empower them! We must empower the people! – What exactly does empowerment mean, what is the official definition of empowerment and how does the UN’s Commission for Social Development intend to go about “empowering”?
This word is a real feel-good word, it’s one of those liberating words, where, when you use it you know you are talking about something good and something that everyone should have, even if you’re not entirely sure what it means.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to empower is: to make someone stronger and more confident.
To make someone stronger and more confident with regard to their life, is definitely something that all mankind should aim at having. No-one would argue that only the rich, or the intelligentsia should be empowered.
Thus far, it can be safely concluded that empowerment, per se, is a fundamental building block from which man is capable of living a happy and fulfilling life, and that poverty and hunger and ill-health is a result of a global lack of empowerment of people. Not the masses, nor countries, but persons. Empowerment of the individual is where the eradication of poverty must begin. According to the words of the Israeli Delegate at the 51st Session of the Commission for Social Development, Empowerment and Poverty Eradication: “go hand in hand”. Similarly, the same delegate posits that “Human capital is the greatest natural resource of a nation”. That is to say, instead of aiming at population control, or sexual health services, governments should be channeling their resources into enabling individuals to exercise their own unique innovation and personal contributions to their society. How should governments go about this empowerment? It’s through stable education systems and entrepreneurship programs that promote both individual innovation and solid family values that empowerment can begin, and thus the eradication of global poverty can begin. To further the ideas that the Israeli Delegate commented on: people are free to act if governments remove obstacles by policies that protect and promote the person. People are the drivers of their own success-this is the path to sustainable development.
Needless to say, there are numerous obstacles in the way of a global empowering, such as the financial and economic crises, nevertheless, it is crucial, as a first step towards this goal that it is understood that, empowerment should be targeted on an individual basis and that it begins in the family, with basic education and equal opportunities for all. Is the world not too developed for there to be masses of people still chained to the affliction of poverty?
To conclude, empowerment is the idea that each and every individual man, woman and child has control over their lives, and is not hindered but such unnecessary and ancient difficulties as starvation and sanitation. It is with hope that we should observe this 51st Session and pray that the UN takes visible steps towards truly empowering the people.
Written by Anthony Readings, Intern at WYA HQ, New York.