Empowerment is an important element of development, being the process by which people take control and action in order to overcome obstacles. Empowerment especially means the collective action by the oppressed and deprived to overcome the obstacles of structural inequality which have previously put them in a disadvantaged position. The Women's Equality & Empowerment Framework sees empowerment as the goal, and at the same time, the essential process for women's advancement. It is the process by which women mobilize to understand, identify and overcome gender discrimination, so as to achieve equality of welfare, and equal access to resources.

Equality of opportunity

    Equality of opportunity means that everybody has an equal chance, especially for equal access. In other words equality of opportunity means that there is no structural discrimination standing in the way of any individual or social group. Equality of opportunity for women would mean ending all gender discrimination.


    Equity means fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities. There has been a debate as to whether equality or equity should be the goals of empowerment and change. Equity also means "having a stake in" or "having a share of". It is , therefore an important component of equality. Technically equality before the law could and often does exist without those deemed to be "equal" really "having a stake in". However, because its meaning of equity has been seen to depend on the definition of fairness and justice it is often said to be a lesser term that equality. In addition, in its legal sense the term equity may suggest a limited notion of the concept of justice, since equity refers to justice within the existing law, rather than justice by changing the law. By contrast, the Women's Equality & Empowerment Framework follows the 1979 Women's Convention in defining justice for women in terms of gender equality.

Economic activity rate

    The ratio (expressed in percent) of the economically active population (employed and unemployed) aged 15 years and over to the total population of the corresponding age group. Alternatively, the economic activity rate can be calculated for the age group 15-64 or 15 to retirement age, or any other age group.

Economically active population

    The definition describes all persons of either sex who furnish the supply of labour for the production of goods and services during the specified time-reference period. In relation to the reference period, the following two measures are distinguished:

    • Usually Active Population - Measured in relation to a long reference period such as a year.
    • Currently Active Population or Labour force - Measured in relation to a short reference period such as one day or one week.

Educational attainment

    Percentage of the adult population (25 years old and over) that has completed a certain level of education defined according to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 1976 or 1997).

Employed population

    The employed comprise all persons above a specific age who during a specified brief period, either one week or one day, were in the following categories:

    • "paid employment":
      • "at work": persons who during the reference period performed some work for wage or salary, in cash or in kind;
      • "with a job but not at work": persons who, having already worked in their present job, were temporarily not at work during the reference period and had a formal attachment to their job.
    • "self-employment":
      • "at work": persons who during the reference period performed some work for profit or family gain, in cash or in kind;
      • "with an enterprise but not at work": persons with an enterprise, which may be a business enterprise, a farm or a service undertaking, who were temporarily not at work during the reference period for any specific reason.


    According to ICSE 1993 (International Classification by Status of Employment), an employer is a person who operates his or her own economic enterprise, or engages independently in a profession or trade and hires one or more employees.