Listen to this enlightening podcast by Prof. Andrea Cornwall on what the mainstream development industry has done to women's empowerment- and how you can go about it differently.
A brief written summary is available on this IDS page. Do click at the bottom of that page to download the half-hour speech: I find it riveting! After some 35 minutes, you'll hear a short documentary film soundtrack in Arabic (no sub-titles in the audio file...), followed by questions and answers (in English again).
Cornwall explains that empowerment is not about "giving that woman a chicken" - "empowerment light" which leaves men, or the society as a whole, completely out of the picture. Empowerment as shifting the boundaries of the possible is what we should be after - supporting women to find power so as to engage differently within their societies. Prof. Cornwall quotes some compelling examples.