Whether guaranteeing access to justice, promoting norms of equality and respect, ensuring access to quality essential services, or helping support organization and voice, Governments wishing to support the empowerment of poor and excluded groups and individuals can draw on a vast repertoire of tools, research and practical experience. Almost as important as what Governments can do, is what they should avoid doing. In the complex, fragile construction of excluded people’s power “within”, “with” and “to”, the first priority should be for Governments to avoid becoming part of the problem. That means tackling official corruption, coercion and cooptation, and creating an environment in which the thousand flowers of genuine empowerment can bloom. In addition, Governments need to curb the “bad power” of non-State actors, in the shape of excessive concentration of power and influence, and its use against the interests of excluded groups and individuals. This is as true in the household, for example violence against women and children, as at community and societal levels. Empowerment should be driven primarily by those whom it is intended to benefit – poor and excluded groups. Marginalized people and their organizations need to be in the driving seat, whether leading on their own, with allies, or exploring and co-creating solutions with Government.
Research Professor. Director at Learning Change Project – Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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