An interesting claim here, that we should indeed be concerned about womens' empowerment - something we agree upon at least - but that we must concentrate on their political empowerment, not the economic:
The assumption behind all of these donations is the same: Women’s empowerment is an economic issue, one that can be separated from politics. It follows, then, that it can be resolved by a benevolent Western donor who provides sewing machines or chickens, and thus delivers the women of India (or Kenya or Mozambique or wherever in what’s known as the “global south”) from their lives of disempowered want.
Well, yes, we tend to think that those who are dirt poor are not empowered in any meaningful manner. Further, that the very fact that one starts to create economic value empowers. Either through being able to command that economic value itself - we do all tend to agree that richer people have more life freedom - and also by being able to trade it. Other people would like to share in that value created, this gives you power over them.
In fact, a useful definition of either wealth or empowerment is the ability to command the labour and resources of others. Richer people, even if it's only be a couple of laying hens, have more of this.
But apparently we're wrong:
It’s time for a change to the “empowerment” conversation. Development organizations’ programs must be evaluated on the basis of whether they enable women to increase their potential for political mobilization, such that they can create sustainable gender equality.
Somehow we just can't agree with the idea that another march on the district office in favour of gender parity is going to be as successful as women owning economic assets, such in itself being most empowering. One of the joys of our argument is that Karl and Friedrich would agree with us. The relations of production really do mean that a change in the economic structure leads to a change in who has the power. That is, if, as they do now in the rich world, women have more economic power then they will also have both greater political power and greater gender parity.
Economic development thus bringing about the desired goal rather than being an alternative to it.