Sasha Kondrashov and Ani Dingamtar
What is “empowerment”?
Empowerment originated from the Latin verb for power, potere, which means, ‘to be able’ and is also linked to the word ‘potent’ meaning powerful, cogent, persuasive and having or exercising a great influence (Rodwell, 1996). Its prefix ‘em’ means ‘cause to be or provide with’ (cited in Abdoli et.al, 2011). The suffix ‘ment’ is defined as a result, act or process and thus by adding the suffix ‘ment’ to the verb ’empower’, empowerment becomes a noun defined as the process or result of empowering (Rodwell, 1996). Empowerment is individually determined (McIntosh, 2016), and can be seen as a helping process, a partnership valuing self and others, mutual decision making, and freedom to make choices and accept responsibility (Rodwell, 1996).
How can social workers empower themselves?
Empowerment is a process. When one understands how the process works, they can empower themselves daily (Salzman, 1994). Social workers can empower themselves individually and collectively through the use of support groups, caucuses of professional organizations, social media and other forms of groups to process their experiences, build coalitions with each other, strategize for the next steps, and/or to take actions to fight against oppression and discrimination (Sakamoto, 2005).
What is the Empower Social Worker Campaign? #EMPRsocialwork
Similar to the mission of the Wikimedia Foundation ‘‘to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally’’ (Botella et.al, 2012) Empower Social Worker campaign’s mission is to engage social workers and allies around the world to collectively create a list of individual empowerment tools through the use of images and story-telling and to disseminate them effectively among social work communities of practice.
We plan to achieve our mission by running the social media campaign to introduce some very successful empowerment tools that social workers and allies use around the world to empower themselves. Those tools can assist current social work students and future social workers to practice social work and stay empowered. Empowerment tools are personal growth activities that are used over time to create a sense of self-worth, personal and professional accountability, and generate power within an individual.
Why Empower Social Worker (ESW)?
Empowerment on an individual level should be considered an important step to strengthening social work practices, connecting with communities, reducing the sense of powerlessness, which, in turn, would help social workers and allies to link their critical consciousness and self-actualization to work toward social justice (Sakamoto, 2005).
We argue that #EMPRsocialwork campaign is crucial because it helps social workers and allies to maintain personal and professional power to effectively perform their multiple roles in different practice contexts. Empowered social workers are more effective in challenging oppression and privilege and affecting positive changes at different levels (Sakamoto, 2005).
How to join the campaign and share what empowerment means to you as a professional social worker?
#EMPRsocialwork is a space to encourage social workers and allies to share their stories and tools that empower them in their fields of practice.
Join the campaign in 4 steps:
- Find and Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
- Think about the tool that empowers you to practice social work
- Share an image and provide the brief story of that tool on social media using #EMPRsocialwork
- Invite your social work friends and allies to follow the campaign and challenge them to share their empowerment tools
Abdoli, S., Ashktorab, T., Ahmadi, F., Parvizy, S., & Dunning, T. (2011). Religion, faith and the empowerment process: Stories of Iranian people with diabetes. International journal of nursing practice, 17(3), 289-298.
McIntosh, D. (2016). Empowering clients means empowering ourselves first. Retrieved from http://www.socialworker.com/extras/social-work-month-project-2016/empowering-clients-means-empowering-ourselves-first/
Botella, C., Riva, G., Gaggioli, A., Wiederhold, B. K., Alcaniz, M., & Baños, R. M. (2012). The present and future of positive technologies. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(2), 78–84.
Rodwell, C. M. (1996). An analysis of the concept of empowerment. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 23(2), 305–313.
Sakamoto, I. (2005). Use of critical consciousness in anti-oppressive social work practice: Disentangling power dynamics at personal and structural levels. British Journal of Social Work, 35(4), 435–452.
Salzman, J. (1994). Self-empowerment: Achieving your potential through self-awareness. Women in Business, 46(3), 24-27.