Vulnerability and empowerment are central concepts of contemporary development theory and ethics. Vulnerability associated with human interdependence is a wellspring of values in care ethics, while vulnerability arising from social problems demands remedy, of which empowerment is frequently the just form. Development planners and aid providers focus upon improving the wellbeing of the most vulnerable – especially women – by empowering them economically, socially and politically.
Both vulnerability and empowerment are considered in this volume. Drydyk argues that empowerment is necessarily relational, not simply a matter of expanding choices. Koggel reviews Drydyk’s discussion through the lens of feminist relational theory, considering how norms, structures and institutions shape, delimit, and promote empowerment. Presbey examines empowerment in East African women’s lives through the writings and biography of Wangari Maathai. Kosko considers indigenous self-governance and participation in shared governance. Khader reflects upon postcolonial feminist criticism of the concept of adaptive preference. Panitch discusses the economic vulnerability that surrounds the global market in surrogate birth. Pandey provides a review of third world eco-feminist activism and literature. Cudd envisions international humanitarian intervention to support female autonomy against oppressive state and social institutions.
This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Global Ethics.