A Conceptual Model of Women and Girls’ Empowerment

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is taking an intentional approach to investing in the empowerment of women and girls. This investment aims to achieve greater gender equality, lead to better health and development outcomes, and avoid harmful unintended consequences. However, many programs that aim to benefit women and girls do not ultimately empower them, and may in fact reinforce their lack of power. A focus on empowerment requires a shift away from seeing women and girls as beneficiaries of programs to viewing them as agents of change. The aim of this conceptual model is not to reinvent the concept of women and girls’ empowerment, but rather to draw on decades of thought, program work, evidence, and learning to ensure that we approach our work on women and girls’ empowerment with clarify and consistency. This brief presents the BMGF model of women and girls’ empowerment, developed in partnership with the Gender Team at the Royal Tropical Institute of the Netherlands (KIT).

Key topics

  • Defining Empowerment: Choice, Voice, and Power
  • Key Elements of Women and Girls’ Empowerment
  • Dynamics of Transformative Change
  • Crosscutting Considerations

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Author:

BMGF and Royal Tropical Institute of the Netherlands (KIT)

Country of focus:

Global

Published:

2017

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