Scientific Publication

Beyond “empowerment lite”: Women’s empowerment, neoliberal development and global justice


An apparent paradox stalks the rise of women’s and girls’ empowerment. The instrumental case for “investing in women” has been persuasively and glossily made. Yet the “business case” is primarily underpinned by feminist research framed by materialist concerns with persistent inequality rather than “unleashing potential” and with structural transformation rather than simply the incorporation of women into labour markets underpinned and sustained by inequitable and discriminatory norms and practices. I situate some of the contradictions of the current conjuncture and explore the role of critical analysis in destabilising the gender myths and conflations that characterise what I call empowerment lite.