Empowerment theories are most commonly used in a context where victims are experiencing a form of oppression. For victims to recover and produce change in their lives, they must feel as though they have the power and resources to do so. In this paper, empowerment theory within a women’s shelter is explored and analyzed. Specific organizational changes are offered based off a study which highlighted the importance of creating a culture within the organization that will support an empowerment-based program.
Robbins, Chatterjee, and Canda (2012) describes empowerment as the process of gaining power by accessing resources that will permit people to control the situations in their life (p. 87). Oftentimes, barriers get in the way of the ability to retrieve needed resources; therefore, empowerment theories put a large emphasis on gaining power, which is defined as “the ability to access and control resources and people (Robbins, Chatterjee, and Canda, 2012, p. 87).” In contrast to power, empowerment theories view powerlessness as the inability to manage resources or emotions in a way that will be beneficial to their success (p. 87). The goal of empowerment theories is to promote individuals or groups to acknowledge their situation and develop strategies that will help produce change, instead of blaming the victim for the discrimination or oppression they are experiencing (p. 86).
When viewing the shelter presented in Srinivasan and Davis’s (1991) study, the informal organization allowed for empowerment of the staff, but did not offer the same opportunity for the residents (p. 53). The residents were not involved in any decision-making, which only continued to oppress the wo...
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...agencies on the empowerment approach and advocate for the collaboration in using this approach, as it was found in the study that different philosophies of partnerships is considered a barrier to maintaining the empowerment-based approach (p. 252)
The women’s shelter discussed in this paper offered some positive approaches toward upholding an empowerment practice, however, there remained some areas that continued to lacked in the ability to empower the residents. Based on the study of Gutierrez, GlenMaye, and DeLois (1995), barriers and supports for an empowerment practice were given, which were expanded on to develop specific strategies for the staff of the women’s shelter to better empower their residents. Overall, a power sharing approach between the agencies administration, staff, and clients is the best way to maintain an empowerment based practice.
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