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
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 empowerment
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.
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
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
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.
the unfolding ROSE in
our logo shows your potential as a symbol of empowerment.
Stuttgart, February 1999