IntroductionThis assignment is designed to unambiguously outline the women empowerment approach as given by Sara Longwe. It will also give explanation on how adequate the approach is as an empowerment tool? Before going into the various features in responding to the above question, this paragraph will introduce the person of Sara Longwe, after which the Longwe framework for gender analysis will be explained as well. To start with, the following question is considered well, to establish the person of Sara LongweWho is Sara Longwe?She is also called Sara Hlupekile Longwe, a feminist activist based in Lusaka, Zambia.
She has been involved in the struggle for gender justice for many years. She vigorously began her activism in the 1970s, when as a young school teacher, the government refused to give her maternity leave, despite Zambia;s ratification of an ILO labour convention that required the school to provide 90 days of paid maternity leave. This led to Sara becoming a prime mover in a lobbying group that successfully pressed government to introduce, in mid 70s, a provision for paid maternity leave at work places at national level. She played an imperative role in pushing the government (1985) into ratifying the 1979 UN convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against women (CEDAW). Sara Longwe’s Women’s Empowerment FrameworkThe Longwe framework also referred to as the Women’s Empowerment Framework was developed by Sara Hlupekile Longwe as a way to conceptualize the process of empowerment through a sequence of measurable actions. The tool highlights the ascending levels of gender equality, although the levels are not linear in nature, but rather are conceptualized as reinforcing in nature.
The path can be used as a frame of reference for progressive steps towards increasing equality, starting from meeting basic welfare needs to equality in the control over the means of production.Aims of the framework? To achieve women’s empowerment by enabling women to achieve equal control over the factors of production and participate equally in the development process.Features of the frameworkLongwe argues that poverty arises not from lack of productivity but from oppression and exploitation. The model is explicitly political, linking women’s inequality and poverty to structural oppression. As such, in order to secure women’s equality and empowerment, both materially and financially, women must be empowered.
The tool examines a program, such as a health or education intervention, to assess how it influences the five levels of empowerment, i.e., negatively, positively, or neutrally. It hypothesizes an ascending level of equality impacts that can be tracked and assessed over time to see if progression or regression is taking place. These levels of equality are hierarchical. If a development intervention focuses on the higher levels, there is a greater likelihood that women’s empowerment will be increased by the intervention than if the project focuses on the lower levels. If the intervention concentrates only on welfare, it is very unlikely that women will find the project empowering.
Equal participation in the decision-making process about certain resources is more important for achieving women’s empowerment than equal access to resources; and neither participation nor access is as important as equal control. These are the basis to assess the extent of women’s empowerment in any area of social or economic life. The five “levels of equality” in the Women’s Empowerment Framework include:? Control: – meaning improvement in socioeconomic status, such as income, better nutrition, etc (this level produces nothing to empower women).? Participation: meaning increased access to resources.
This is the first step in empowerment as women increase their access relative to men.? Conscientisation: involving the recognition of structural forces that disadvantage and discriminate against women coupled with the collective aim to address these discriminations.? Access: implementing actions related to the conscientisation of women.? Welfare: involving the level of access reached and control of resources that have shifted as a result of collective claim making and action.
Strengths of the Women’s Empowerment Framework:? The Women’s Empowerment Framework may assist organizations in developing more explicit programmatic strategies that aim to fundamentally shift the bases of gender inequality.? Gendered assumptions of equality are made explicit. This provides an excellent opportunity for a feminist context analysis, highlighting the political dimensions of gender inequality. ? The three levels of a program effect, e.
g., positive, neutral, or negative impact, can be easily compared across programs. This also helps clarify areas of program strength and weakness, which can be used for program learning purposes.? It is unique in explicitly allowing negative impacts to be located and analyzed.Weaknesses of the Women’s Empowerment Framework? The Women’s Empowerment Framework is not designed to explain how or why a program works, exploring the contributing or causal factors that led to the progression from one level of impact to the next.
? Focus is only placed on three levels of equality, e.g., positive, neutral, or negative impact, which limits important qualitative assessments of “success” that provide valuable information critical for program improvement.? The assumption that there is a hierarchy of gender equality levels suggests a somewhat more linear change trajectory than is often found in practice.Women’s Empowerment Tool 2: Level of recognition of ‘women’s issues’? Longwe asserts that it is not only important to assess the levels of women’s empowerment which a development intervention seeks to address. It is also important to identify the extent to which the project objectives are concerned with women’s development, to establish whether women’s issues are ignored or recognised. ? Negative level: At this level, the project objectives make no mention of women’s issues.
Experience has shown that women are very likely to be left worse off by such a project. ? Neutral level: This is also known as the conservative level. Project objectives recognise women’s issues, but concerns remain that the project intervention does not leave women worse off than before. ? Positive level: At this level, the project objectives are positively concerned with women’s issues, and with improving the position of women relative to men. Longwe also distinguishes between: women’s issues – which pertain to equality with men in any social or economic role and involving any of the levels of equality; and women’s concerns – which pertain to women’s traditional and subordinate, sex-stereotyped gender roles.The women’s empowerment framework identifies three levels of recognition of women’s issues in project design: Negative level where project objectives are silent about women’s issues. Experience suggests that women are likely to be left worse off by such a project.Neutral level where the project objectives recognise women’s issues but concern remains neutral or conservative, merely ensuring that women are not left worse off than beforePositive level where project objectives are positively concerned with women’s issues and with improving the position of women relative to menThe framework can be used to produce profiles as below: Uses of the framework? Particularly useful for groups committed to promoting equality and empowerment through their workStrengths of the framework? Develops the notion of practical and strategic gender needs into a progressive hierarchy.
? Shows that empowerment is an essential element of development and enables assessment of interventions along this criterion? Has a strong political perspective, aims to change attitudesPotential limitations? Assumption of levels of equality as strictly hierarchical is questionable.? Framework is static and takes no account of how situations change over time? Examines gender relations from the point of view of equality alone, excludes interrelationship between rights, and responsibilities? ignores other forms of inequalityHow adequate is the approach as an empowerment model?? It looks at the relationship between men and women only in terms of equality – rather than at the complicated system of rights, claims, and responsibilities which exists between them; ? It does not consider other forms of inequality, and can encourage a misleading view of women as a homogeneous group; ? The Longwe Framework does not specify whether development inter¬ventions should target women-only, men-only, or mixed groups. ? Women’s empowerment must be the concern of both women and men, and the degree to which the project is defined as potentially empowering women is defined by the extent to which it addresses women’s issues. ConclusionIn conclusion it is evident that empowerment takes place as individual women and groups of women move between levels, gaining strength along the way; Empowerment occurs in the Process of Social Change. Although, women’s empowerment must be the concern of both women and men, and the degree to which the project is defined as potentially empowering women is defined by the extent to which it addresses women’s issues. It is against this background that one can fully state that the Longwe’s Women’s Empowerment Framework is an effective model in empowering women.References? Adapted from Training Workshop for Trainers in Women, Gender and Development, June 9-21, 1996, Programme Handbook, Royal Tropical Institute, The Netherlands.
? March, C., Smyth, I., and Mukhopadhyay, M. (1999) A Guide to Gender Analysis Frameworks, Oxfam, Oxford ? Sara Longwe. 1995. “Gender Awareness: The Missing Element in the Third World Development Program” in Candida March and Tina Wallace (Eds) Changing Perception: New Writings on Gender and Development. Oxfam: Oxford.
? Sara Longwe. 2002. “Spectacles for Seeing Gender in Project Evaluation.”