With radical roots in the 1980s, women's empowerment is now a mainstream development concern. Much of the narrative focuses on instrumental gains—what women can do for development rather than what development can do for women. Empowerment is treated as a destination reached through development's equivalent of motorways: programmes rolled out over any terrain. But in the process, pathways women are travelling in their own individual or collective journeys of empowerment remain hidden. Revisiting foundational feminist work on empowerment, this article draws on findings from multi-country research programme, Pathways of Women's Empowerment, to explore what works to support these journeys. © 2016 UNU-WIDER. Journal of International Development published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.