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Accepted Contribution:

Embodying a Decolonial Notion of Empowerment: Perceptions Among Handicraft Workshop Beneficiaries in Egypt  
Maha Gaad (Institute of Development Studies (IDS))

Contribution short abstract:

This presentation demonstrates how women beneficiaries of craft workshops in Cairo embody a decolonial notion of empowerment as compared to the literature, thus how women's voices transcend and complicate assumed binary oppositions between Sardenberg’s theorisation of liberal/liberating empowerment

Contribution long abstract:

This presentation is based on ongoing research being conducted as part of the author’s PhD studies at the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex). The research seeks to explore the perceptions of empowerment among both women beneficiaries of handicraft-based Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) programmes that are funded by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and their differences between those of the NGO staff working on these programmes. The qualitative research took place in 2022 across three of the poorest neighborhoods in Cairo, utilising a case study approach where one NGO and its related WEE programme was analysed. The presentation presents how the women beneficiaries embody and perceive a decolonial and different notion of empowerment as compared to what is said in the literature and thus how women's voices transcend and complicate assumed binary oppositions between Sardenberg’s theorisation of liberal and liberating empowerment.

Through Sardenberg’s theorisation of empowerment, earning income through craft-based workshops is a form liberal empowerment – where power is taken out of the equation - however preliminary results from the women beneficiaries in this study provide decolonial notions of empowerment, where the women themselves feel they are empowered in Sardenberg’s liberating sense - where power is very much at the centre of their empowerment. Therefore, in its analysis of power, empowerment literature still lacks decoloniality and is limited in its scope. The presentation ends with recommendations on ways to enable decoloniality through viable alternative theorisations of empowerment for future practice of WEE programmes.

Panel P73
Experiences in decolonial research and practice: in search of connection and agency
  Session 1 Wednesday 28 June, 2023, -