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Home > Arhiva > 2013 > Numar: 3 > Empowerment – Easier Said than Measured

 Empowerment – Easier Said than Measured

  • Ana Ivasiuc (National School of Political Studies and Public Administration's Project "Building & Implementing an Inovative Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program regarding Roma Issue"; 6, Povernei St., District #1, Bucharest, E-mail:

Within development practice, there is quite a consistent attention towards the empowerment of excluded or marginalised categories, and the concept has known an ascending trend among practitioners of social work. However, oftentimes there seems to be a certain taken-for-grantedness of the concept. How to operationalise empowerment? How do we measure the degree of empowerment of a group, and at what level? When do the “powerless” become truly empowered? When can we say that an intervention has succeeded in empowering a group? The arguments of the paper draw on a case study: the project “Empowering Roma communities in influencing and monitoring local agendas in Romania”, implemented in 2008-2010 by Impreuna Agency for Community Development in about 100 of the most marginalised Roma communities in Romania, and will try to propose answers to the previous questions. After a brief description of the project and its context, we will present the methodology of the intervention within the framework of community development practice, stressing a few of the elements which helped foster empowerment and focusing on the case of the Roma in Romania. In the second part, we will present the framework for measuring empowerment at the grassroots level, alongside several axes: (self-) perception, capacity of mobilisation, type of interest pursued, group vision, achievements. Finally, we will present the results of the measuring framework put to use in the case of the aforementioned project, and use them to draw attention to the possible pitfalls and difficulties of measurement which can arise.

Keywords: Roma, empowerment, community development, operationalisation, measuring impact