Gender, Sexuality and Empowerment
‘It’s a girl’. These few words told to the parents of a new daughter in India are dangerous words to utter. In India there are an estimated forty million missing women. These are women that would be alive today were it not for the conscious intervention of men and women. Elsewhere women continue to be less educated, less healthy, less mobile and less employed than men. Gender and sexuality are more complicated than a simple binary division into male and female so our view of any gender based division of labour or discrimination is necessarily more complicated than even these brief examples. What is ‘empowerment’ and what does it mean in social contexts very different from western liberal norms? How do we conceptualise or measure empowerment and what agency is responsible for empowerment and whose agenda is being promoted by any such intervention?