Creating Empowered Women in Cambodia: A Case of Harpswell Foundation
Women empowerment is considered a complex and multidimensional phenomenon because it is heavily embedded in the context in which it is being practiced. The construct of empowerment can be viewed from the lens of a process (i.e. elements facilitating individual’s or group’s empowerment) and an outcome (i.e. empowered individuals or groups). The study is a qualitative analysis of exploring empowerment through the lens of agency and opportunity structure. The present study has been conducted on students of Harpswell Foundation, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Harpswell Foundation is a residential facility that invests in female high school graduates by providing them access to higher education, housing and leadership opportunities. Empirical results reveal that the processes and program components of Harpswell Foundation create an enabling environment for young women which leads to development of their personal skills, self awareness, career planning, economic stability and self sustainability. The graduates of Harpswell Foundation play a significant role in creating empowered women in Cambodia as most of these graduates being the first generation of their family to attend university, are either self employed, work at a top tier company or non profit, have pursued higher education, and/or created a significant difference in the economic conditions of their family.
Keywords— women empowerment, leadership, agency, opportunity structure, Development in Cambodia