Understanding Women’s Empowerment

Meaning, Quotes & How to Empower Women

Understanding Women’s Empowerment

Meaning, Quotes & How to Empower Women

What is women’s empowerment?

Women’s empowerment can be defined to promoting women’s sense of self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices, and their right to influence social change for themselves and others.

It is closely aligned with female empowerment – a fundamental human right that’s also key to achieving a more peaceful, prosperous world.

In Western countries, female empowerment is often associated with specific phases of the women’s rights movement in history. This movement tends to be split into three waves, the first beginning in the 19th and early 20th century where suffrage was a key feature. The second wave of the 1960s included the sexual revolution and the role of women in society. Third wave feminism is often seen as beginning in the 1990s.

Women’s empowerment and promoting women’s rights have emerged as a part of a major global movement and is continuing to break new ground in recent years. Days like International Women’s Empowerment Day are also gaining momentum.

But despite a great deal of progress, women and girls continue to face discrimination and violence in every part of the world.

750 million

women and girls alive today were married before the age of 18

1 in 5

women have experienced physical or sexual violence in the last 12 months

23.7 percent

representation of women in political offices

1. The Women's Empowerment Principles

Created in a collaboration between the UN Global Compact and UN Women, the Women’s Empowerment Principles are used to empower women in the marketplace, workplace and community.

The seven Principles are:

  • Principle 1: Create high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
  • Principle 2: Treat all people fairly at work, respecting and supporting non-discrimination and human rights
  • Principle 3: Ensure the health, wellbeing and safety of all workers, whether male or female
  • Principle 4: Promote education, training and professional development for women
  • Principle 5: Implement supply chain, marketing practices and enterprise development that empower women
  • Principle 6: Champion equality through community initiatives and advocacy
  • Principle 7: Measure and report publicly on progress to create gender equality

2. Quotes on women's empowerment

By standing up for equality, women have helped other women speak up and empowered them. Here are some examples of prominent women who have spoken out about women’s equality.

3. The global landscape of women's empowerment

Gender equality is a basic human right, and it is also fundamental to having a peaceful, prosperous world.

But girls and women continue to face significant challenges all around the world. Women are typically underrepresented in power and decision-making roles. They receive unequal pay for equal work, and they often face legal and other barriers that affect their opportunities at work.

In the developing world, girls and women are often seen as less valuable than boys. Instead of being sent to school, they are often made to do domestic work at home or are married off for a dowry before they are adults. As many as 12 million underage girls are married every year.

While some progress is being made in various parts of the world, there is still a great deal left to be done to right the problems of gender inequality.

4. Why is empowering girls and women so important?

Empowering women is essential to the health and social development of families, communities and countries.

When women are living safe, fulfilled and productive lives, they can reach their full potential. contributing their skills to the workforce and can raise happier and healthier children. They are also able to help fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.

Barbara and Lulu, both four-years-old, walk home from school together at sunset.

A key part of this empowerment is through education. Girls who are educated can pursue meaningful work and contribute to their country’s economy later in life. They are also four times less likely to get married young when they have eight years of education, meaning that they and their families are healthier.


Empowering girls is the key to economic growth, political stability and social transformation.
Help empower girls now.

5. Real stories of women’s empowerment

Marie: One last chance

When 14-year-old Marie started school, there were equal numbers boys and girls. But in her Year 8 classroom, she is the only girl, surrounded by 19 boys.

“I want to finish secondary school too. I want to prove that girls can do it,” Marie says, with a look of determination.

Just one chance left: keeping girls in school in South Sudan

If Marie graduates primary school, she’ll be the first girl in her family with a certificate.

In South Sudan, girls who complete all their education are exceptional. Due to the conflict and poverty, only 30 per cent of the children who are of school going age are currently studying. Gender inequality is also a factor, and only one in every seven girls (18 per cent) finish primary school in South Sudan.

But World Vision is acting to support education in Marie’s community. We built the primary school that Marie attends and provides teachers with financial incentives and materials to work there. The 700 children currently enrolled in the school are provided with school supplies – books, uniforms, pens and pencils.

Marie's community now has a school, which was built by World Vision

“We’re addressing gender inequality in education through community awareness sessions with parents, but changing behaviour and customs that have lasted for generations requires persistence and determination,” say Godfrey, a World Vision project manager working in Marie’s community.

Marie hopes that one day she can change her community and that through her example more girls will be able to continue studying. Until then, she’ll continue to keep taking notes and writing tests, towards her goal of finishing her education.

Tabitha: Baking to give back

Smells of fresh bread – voices of ladies talking - a faint glow flickers through the windows. The day’s baking has begun here at the Thusanang Mokhali Bakery in Lesotho.

Tabitha is one of the bakery’s two senior group members. A local pastor, she had seen the challenges that faced people in her community, and she was particularly concerned by the limited opportunities for young people.

Tabitha is a member of the Thusanang Mokhali Bakery in Mokhali Ha Paramente Village

She began to ask herself how she could help her community – and eventually, the bakery was born. Alongside another grandmother named Mahlakametsa, Tabitha began baking bread to create employment opportunities.

With the help of World Vision, the duo were given a baking oven and other critical equipment. This meant they were able to move from the inefficient process of baking in the earth-dug fire pit, and instead could bake indoors.

This also meant they were able to expand and attract new team members.

Mahlakametsa, Kananelo Matela, Tabitha Mamopei and Reekelitsoe Lekoro eat bread as Tabitha Mamopei counts the days earnings.

For women like Tabitha, having a livelihood like this is a path to hope. In many parts of the world, women aren’t equipped with the skills, knowledge and access to funding that allows them to start working and take control of their futures.

Tabitha now can use the skills she already has and, together with the support of World Vision, she can make a living that gives bread and jobs to her community.

“I remembered that I knew how to knead and to cook bread because I used to work at a bakery. Now I understood that with the people here we can do that,” she says.

6. How can I empower women and girls?

Standing with and investing in women is an important start. From workplaces and schools to homes and communities, women

Gender equality underpins all of World Vision’s work – and there are many great activities you can get involved in to support the rights of women in developing countries.

  1. Sponsor a girl: When you sponsor a girl, you can give her the tools to gain an education and take back the rights she deserves. This is a key way that girls can be empowered to grow up and influence their generation – and the next.
  2. Educate yourself by finding out about issues that affect girls – for instance, child marriage.
  3. Learn about what World Vision is doing to make change. Read more about our approach to helping girls escape gender inequality.
  4. Buy women’s empowerment gifts. World Vision offers a variety of gifts that contribute to investing in and building up women and girls.

Buy female empowerment gifts

7. How World Vision is helping empower women

We believe that healthy, educated and empowered women and girls are agents of change.

When women and girls are supported, they gain opportunities to speak up for their rights, and also to advocate for their communities. They are also able to rise in social standing, and they can feed this into future generations.

This means women’s organisations, women’s empowerment policies and women’s charities can gain momentum and contribute to a stronger world.

35 members – established in 2015. Income earned from different sources (tea selling, milk, goats)

World Vision supports women and girls by:

  • Our sponsorship program. When you sponsor a girl, you not only help give a girl opportunities she may have been denied – but our community-focused approach means that her whole community benefits, too.
  • Helping girls and women learn advocacy skills at all stages of life so that they can use their voices effectively for their own rights
  • Partnering with communities, faith leaders and governments to challenge and correct harmful social norms that keep women and girls from their potential
  • Raising awareness around the causes of poor health and wellbeing that are related to gender
  • Empowering women and girls through water, sanitation and hygiene; health and nutrition; livelihoods training; and education programs to increase their opportunities and ability to reach their full potential


You can be part of the solution

Empowering girls is the key to economic growth, political stability and social transformation. Help empower girls now.
When a girl is educated, there's so much she can achieve a good job, higher income, healthier children, and improved wellbeing for her family and community.