We consider agency to be the ability to advance goals that one values and has reason to value, and empowerment, as its expansion – in other words, an increasing ability of individuals and of groups to bring about change.
Agency is of intrinsic and instrumental importance to impoverished communities: ‘Greater freedom enhances the ability of people to help themselves, and also to influence the world, and these matters are central to the process of development’ (Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, New York: Knopf Press, 1999: pp. 18-19).
A recent study of 60,000 people in 15 countries asked people who had moved out of poverty how they had achieved this. Seventy-seven percent attributed this to their own initiative (Narayan et al., Moving Out of Poverty: Success from the Bottom Up, Vol 2, The World Bank, Palgrave MacMillan, 2009: pp. 20). Measures of empowerment in different domains of life are urgently needed to support people’s ability to engage in and to shape development processes.
Survey module: Agency and Empowerment – Mandarin, 2011 (Translation courtesy of Science Press.)
You can read an abridged version of this paper in Spanish:
(Translation courtesy of Revista Humanum.)
The missing dimensions modules have been implemented and integrated into multi-topic household surveys. Read more about the projects around the world.| Trackback