Community empowerment is high on the current policy agenda. The Department for Communities and Local Government is leading the drive to “enable more people to play an active role in the decisions that affect their communities”. Real community empowerment is the result of putting community development values into action. These are values of:
a) Learning, b) equality, c) participation, d) co-operation, e) social justice.
In spite of this, Community Empowerment has five dimensions, these are:
a) Confident- working in ways which increase people’s skills, knowledge and confidence, and instill in them a belief that they can make a difference
b) Inclusive- working in ways which recognize that discrimination exists, promote equality of opportunity and good relations between groups and challenge inequality and exclusion
c) Organized- working in ways which bring people together around common issues and concerns in organisations and groups that are open, democratic and accountable
d) Co-operative- working in ways which build positive relationships across groups, identify common messages, develop and maintain links to national bodies and promote partnership working
e) Influential- working in ways which encourage and equip communities to take part and influence decisions, services and activities
So, Community development means “Community development is about building active and sustainable communities based on social justice and mutual respect… it is about changing power structures to remove the barriers that prevent people from participating in the issues that affect their lives”. And these five dimensions provide a framework for planning work which is empowering for communities, however ‘community’ is identified and whichever area of work is being planned. They can also be used as a framework for identifying indicators and evaluating the work, helping us to make judgments about whether the processes and outcomes are leading to community empowerment. They offer a broad and comprehensive definition of community empowerment, and can act as a basis for developing collectively understood indicators.
Looking at community empowerment in this way helps clarify what an organisation or department needs to have in place to work in an empowering way and contribute to community empowerment. Community empowerment is not just aboutcommunities changing as they ‘become empowered’. It is also about agencies changing the way they work, to take more ‘empowering approaches’. The five dimensions are responsible for community empowerment and also help to create livelihood opportunities in different sectors.
To develop the local communities and for their livelihood sustainability it is very necessary to establish some objective for them. The objectives are:
a) To assess the socio-economic profile of the rural women in the specified locality
b) identify livelihood needs of the rural women
c) understand availability and utilization of resources and services for the women
d) impart sustainable livelihood skills training, enhance leadership skills among women to set up entrepreneurial initiatives/units,
e) Network with institutions/ organizations for promoting marketing abilities of women create awareness on rights with special reference to employment, health, education, and other legal aspects.
The Government Organisation and the NGOs are working for them in different ways. They work with communities to enhance their future prosperity by increasing their ability to successfully manage their own livelihood options and improve their food security. Their activities also focus on empowering women so they can generate their own income and are engaged in various aspects (social, cultural and political) governing their lives. In order to alleviate poverty, is critical that communities have access to livelihood opportunities through Model Villages in the State and whole countries and economic upliftment through sustainable livelihood generation procedure. The organization should work with communities to develop sustainable livelihood opportunities; enhancing food security and increasing their ability manage livelihood options and enhancing the empowerment of women through self help groups. The organizations should provide both financial and technical support, as well as promoting sustainable livelihood opportunities such as Poultry Farming, Small Business, Systematic Rice Intensification and Pond-Based Integrated Farming. Not only that empowering local community and creating livelihood opportunities means, promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment, integration in another resources like crafting, agro business and decent work for all people. In spite of this enhancing access to skills and strengthening grass-roots organizations and govt. schemes have also proved effective in reaching the poorest and the marginalized, and promoting their participation and contribution to development processes. In particular, through organization both at the local level and on larger scales, connecting marginalized groups to country-level and regional processes, poor rural people are able to improve their skills, knowledge and self-confidence by benefiting from collective action. Through producers’ organizations, even marginalized farmers can in some cases increase their ability to take advantage of economic opportunities, access assets, information, technologies and markets. Through collective action, moreover, marginalized groups can in principle benefit from economies of scale in production and marketing, which can enhance their bargaining power with respect to other market actors. Economic empowerment often leads to increased social status, decision-making power, and the ability to exercise one’s citizenship rights and to benefit from public services. However, it is important to address economic and social empowerment together, considering that social exclusion can be also present within rural organizations, resulting in marginalization within these organizations of rural women, youth, or the poorest.
Targets in all rural areas can have a catalytic effect on the social and economic empowerment of marginalized rural people. In addition to adjusting targets to the realities of marginalized groups in our country, a critical step is the identification of appropriate indicators to track progress among these groups. In this regard, the development of reliable and disaggregated statistics is central for measuring progress and informing and analyzing policies, considering that there are often scant or poor data on marginalized rural groups. Therefore, commitment to “the data revolution”, will be fundamental to develop appropriate targets and indicators, and to monitor progress on post-2015 goals across multiple social levels. This will require significant investment in the strengthening of national statistical capacities. In addition, creating forums and opportunities and building capacity for marginalized rural groups – again, particularly rural women and indigenous peoples – to voice their own concerns and priorities for the post-2015 agenda is of paramount importance. It is also part and parcel of the process of empowerment and the reversal of their marginalization in debates that can have major impact on their livelihoods and future.