Tuesday, March 12, 2013

BIC statement explores a new concept of empowerment

NEW YORK — Concepts of empowerment that pit one group against another should be discarded in favor of a new vision where social transformation is approached as a collective enterprise in which all people are able to participate.

"The impulse to rectify social inequalities is unquestionably noble, but us/them dichotomies only perpetuate and reinforce existing divisions," said the statement, which was titled "Empowerment as a Mechanism for Social Transformation."
 "Careful thought needs to be given to ways in which empowerment can be approached as a universal and shared enterprise and not something the 'haves' bestow on the 'have nots.'" One way to avoid such extremes is to understand humanity as a single social organism, suggested the statement.
 "Implicit in such a conception are characteristics such as the interdependence of the parts and the whole, the indispensability of collaboration, reciprocity and mutual aid, the need to differentiate but also harmonize roles, the need for institutional arrangements that enable rather than oppress, and the existence of a collective purpose above that of any constituent element."