Within the concept of empowerment of individuals the

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within the concept of empowerment of individuals, the ability to influence those people and organizations that affect their lives and the lives of those they care about. Empowerment is both a process as well as an outcome. As a process empowerment helps relatively powerless people. They work together to increase control over events that determine their lives. It gives them freedom of choice and action. Power or control is not granted to them by other agencies, rather they themselves must obtain it. The process of redistribution of power is not always smooth but often involves resistance from and conflict with the structures, systems and institutions that are disempowered. External agencies can provide guidance and create conditions conducive to the shift in power relations between different individuals and social groups in favour of those seeking to be empowered. As an outcome, empowerment is the product of redistribution of resources and decision-making authority. It is reflected in the increased sense of self-esteem in the empowered individual or group of individuals. UNICEF’s empowerment framework involves five hierarchical levels. The first level of empowerment is the welfare level. At this level, women are passive recipients of schemes designed to remove gender gaps in material well-being. At the second level, women’s access to resources, such as land and credit, is improved. At the third level of conscientization women become aware of discrimination against them and identify and remove obstacles that work against them. This leads to the level of participation when women begin to take part in resource and power allocation. The final stage of control is achieved when women begin to control and direct events that affect their interests. Empowerment can be considered complete only when women gain control over themselves as well as over resources and factors of production and participate in decision-making at home and in the public arena.
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Tackling Social and Economic Determinants of Health through Women’s Empowerment 11 2.2 Empowerment and health disparities reduction Inequalities in health in a society are the outcome of unfair distribution of power between different groups within that society. Power relations within a society influence the distribution of resources and the development of policy. This is why economic development and changes in the health care system by themselves have not been able to enhance the health status of marginalized groups to the extent desired. A case is now being made for using empowerment, together with economic development and health sector reforms, as a strategy for reducing persistent disparities in health and quality of life across gender and ethnic groups (Kar et.al., 2003). It is believed that in the process of empowering itself, a group or community would tackle the underlying social, structural and economic conditions that impact on its health.
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  • Fall '08
  • Staff
  • ........., SEWA

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