Who has the capacity, credibility and willingness to represent the rights and interests of the poor and marginalized groups?


From the United Nations website http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/egms/docs/2013/EmpowermentPolicies/Background%20Paper.pdf
“The Role of the State in Empowering Poor and Excluded Groups and Individuals
Duncan Green, July 2013
Paper prepared for the Expert Group Meeting on “Policies and strategies to promote empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all”, organized by the Division for Social Policy and Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 10-11 September 2013, New York”

comes this quote
“How do poor and excluded groups and individuals acquire power and the ability to exercise it?

In this view, power is best seen as an invisible force linking individuals and actors, in a state of constant flux and renegotiation. Empowerment of excluded groups and individuals involves the redistribution of that power, so that it accumulates in the hands of women and men living in poverty. That process of renegotiation and accumulation is effectively captured by the “three powers” model first proposed by Jo Rowlands (1997). According to this reading, power for excluded groups and individuals can be disaggregated into three basic forms:

Power within (a sense of rights, dignity and voice, along with basic capabilities). This individual level of empowerment is an essential precondition for collective action. For Governments, reshaping the social norms that perpetuate the exclusion of groups and individuals is a crucial aspect of empowerment.

Power with (ability to organize, express views). People living in poverty come together to express their views and demand their rights. Governments need to facilitate (and not oppose or seek to coopt) such organization.

Power to (ability to influence decision makers, whether the State, economic power holders or other). Poor people’s voices are effective in influencing those in power. Governments need to create and maintain channels for such influencing, and facilitate access to them by excluded groups and individuals.

In addition, States play an important role in curtailing “bad power”, in the shape of excessive concentration of power and influence, and its use against the interests of excluded groups and individuals. Legal empowerment, a key weapon in the State armoury, cuts across all these categories.

The next (and main) section of this paper will consider what States can do to promote the power within, with and to of excluded groups and individuals, drawing heavily on case studies of successful action.”


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