Key findings: The vast majority of the literature focuses on the empowerment of women in the community. Of these, some evaluate the contribution of the underlying activity (e.g. micro-finance) in promoting empowerment outcomes, rather than assessing the outcomes of empowerment programmes, more generally. Nonetheless, outcome findings do overlap for both and there is value in looking at these former studies.
Some of the key outcomes of empowerment initiatives in South Asia can be catagorised into personal outcomes, economic outcomes, political outcomes and social outcomes. The literature is split on whether the empowerment of women necessarily translates into community empowerment and collective action. Some other lessons from the literature highlight that firstly, the mere set up of participatory community institutions is not self-activating. Secondly, it may be beneficial to extend targeting beyond the poor. And finally, it may be beneficial to rely on indigenous culture and local values as a foundation for social transformation, rather than the adoption of universal values.