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Empowerment is both a capacity building process and an outcome.
It is a process through which power is gained by and given to people, individuals, their communities and societies.
It is an outcome constituted by increasing opportunities and capacity of individuals and organisations to actively decide on and control over their own lives in their community and larger society.

Empowerment is a multi-dimensional concept concerning many disciplines and policy fields, e.g. individual and community development, psychology, education, economics, social movements, institutions and organizations (families, enterprises, groups, associations, public authorities, private bodies, the State itself and so on).

Empowerment is a basic concept of a society based on democracy, human and civil rights, the overcoming of social, economic, cultural and environmental disequilibria, eradication of gender, ethnic and religious discriminations, decentralisation and autonomy in decision making processes, individual and collective responsibilities (subsidiarity).

Empowerment acquired an universal importance as the following examples explain:
  • the UN World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995) where the mainstreaming of women’s empowerment was promoted in all policy fields

  • several programmes to favour disadvantaged groups, communities and territorial areas, the United Nation

  • Human Development Programme, the European Union social cohesion and inclusion strategies, and so on the sustainable development strategies decided both at worldwide (UN Summits in Rio – 1992 and Johannesburg - 2002) and European Union dimensions (Gothenburg 2001).