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10 Theses and Views on Empowerment

We took the english term empowerment for our work since there is no adequate translation in german language. We are aware that in using unknown Anglicisms we might create a barrier and possible misunderstandings.

consider our work as a part of the global empowerment movement and great history of humankind. Many women and men did dedicate their life for the vision and mission of empowerment. All we can feel is gratitude and we will try our best in following the footsteps of so many around the world.

1. Empowerment was founded in the Anglo-american culture and society as a philosophy of emancipation, human rights and freedom. Keywords are “The Settlement Movement”, “Community Organizing”, “The Black Power Movement” or the “Women’s Liberation Movement”. The term "empowerment" came up during the Afro-american Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. Martin Luther King's: "I have a dream" can be considered as empowerment manifestation. Empowerment as a term was published first on a book written and entitled by Barbara B. Solomon in 1976: "Black Empowerment. Social Work in Oppressed Communities". In Germany e
mpowerment is fairly new and especially used in the field of Social Work. In the 70s it ment "self help" and "emancipation"; since the 80s "participation" and "equal opportunities" and in the 90s "self-realization" to the up-to-date concept "coaching". Recently empowerment has shifted to a magic word of new management concepts in the United States. These are aspects of the idea "empowerment". The meaning of empowerment has expanded itself to include several conscepts in the past decades. However, empowerment has become popular and started a special career around the world in many meanings and on many levels. This makes empowerment to a many-sided and vague concept, open for many perceptions and projections. We need a interdisciplinary sientific discourse to make sure that empowerment will be placed in its emancipatory roots.

2. Empowerment has existed ever since humankind exists being called other names. Empowerment processes has effect on our external and internal life and can't be considered as a seperate entity. Since ancient times of Eastern philosophers, wise Rishis and Yogis up to Buddha Shakyamuni have taught us methods how we can use our personal and transpersonal power to realize our true nature of mind and love. Christians might stress the mercy of reunification of Father, Son and The Holy Spirit. Hindus the awakening in Atman, The Divine Father-Mother. There are other names and ways for Jews and Moslems, Native People, Agnostic and Philosphers all over the world, regardless wether they belief in God or not. Yet, like rivers meeting in the ocean this diversity shows us the potential of personal and transpersonal empowerment.

3. Empowerment is the potency that bases on our own power and not on acquiring power based on depriving others of their own. Empowerment encourages us to increase that strength in ourselves with love and compassion to ourselves first and then to others. Based on this intention every person possesses power and is able to use the gift of empowerment fully.

4. Empowerment as a counselling concept is not indifferent about the outer, existential and societal conditions of the individual. It cares about our common resources and is encouraging the members of a group to stand up for their rights and their quality of life, better education, health, living and working conditions. Participation in politics and communities includes a high regard of every single human potential, resources, talents and gifts, regardless of gender, age, health condition, culture, race and religion.

5 . Empowerment wants to strengthen the power that enables us to release our potentials to intend our lives for ourselves in our external and internal life. Sometimes we do need personal and societal assistance in order to strengthen our faith in our power, talents and potentials. The classical help-concepts in Social Work that can cause "learned helplessness" in their negative forms are the opposite to the approach of empowerment. Instead of taking over the role of a victim, individuals and groups are really able to experience their own mastery of life. Therefore professionals should study empowerment and change their deficit-perspective torwards their clients.

6 . Empowerment processes are merging from the individual into social groups and organizations. In the age of globalization, empowerment is influencing the entire humankind.

7 . Empowerment is going to change into a vogue word of the new century that goes beyond the field of Social Work. For sure this term shows a paradigm shift that leads to an increase in self-responsibility of every single person and entire human race.

8 . Empowerment now focuses more on personal responsibility for ones own potentials, views and beliefs. Self-responsibility should not be misunderstood as a Darwinian principle in promoting the advantage of the stronger and privileged, but on the contrary responsibility is combined with mutual respect and appreciation of the potentials and human rights of everyone.

9 . The purpose of empowerment is not to define a concrete result - its attitude is free of moral and judgements. The individual makes its own decision for its own personal development.

10. Empowerment is a concept, a philosophy with the perception of a potential human being and not a new method for professionals with the intention to help their clients in a hierarchical attitude. Our vision is to create empowerment tools in the hands of the users to transmit the empowerment philosophy into simple but intelligent and easy-to-use tools in order to communicate on equal terms. Everybody, community members, clients, students, pupils and especially uneducated people als well as social workers, health professionals, psycholocists and teachers should be able to use those tools for themselves, their meaning of life and work. Every woman, man and child should have access to the wisdom and power releasing tools of empowerment.

These views of Beate Blank, the founder of emowerment consulting, are her theses regarding the current discourse and future development of empowerment theory and practice.

empowerment consulting creates with this attitude of mind and spirit; with the consideration of the beauty and potentials of everybody, every group or organisation the intermediate space in which development and self-realization is possible.

Therefore the unfolding ROSE in our logo shows your potential as a symbol of empowerment.

Stuttgart, February 1999

Beate Blank