The World Of Empowerment : The Materialistic Component

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II. The first dimension to Empowerment: the materialistic component The problem with categorising the poor in the context of participation is that the poor are often fragmented – geographically, economically and socially - and the preferences within the poor vary vastly (Emmett, 2000). Additionally, one must not forget the existing inequalities between the members within a community; one has to be cautious of the spatial politics of the poor. Hence, external actors (such as NGOs) must be careful not to reinforce existing ethno-nationalist and gender dynamics (Ruwanpura, 2007). Historically, the nature of the NGO sector to specialise – on an issue or on one community- has had positive and negative implications. The positive aspect of this specialisation is that it is easy to implement, monitor and report. The negative aspect of this specialisation is that it can create tension/spite between the affected party and the excluded party (Ruwanpura, 2007). This makes employing an approach that solely focuses on mobilising a challenging task to do. This magnifies the attraction towards a market-orientated approach. Paying for a service can be empowering. It derives a feel good, uplifting utility. Some projects in Bangladesh experienced success that justifies the utility derived from the ability to pay for something. Women felt empowered because they were making money; they no longer need to ask their husbands for money (Bebbington et al, 2007). This utility derived by women implies
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