When activists try to change people’s lives, or tackle the injustices they face, we are actually trying to change power equations. Understanding power in terms of both power structures and power relations is very important for anyone who is an activist working for social change.
It is even more important for anyone working on women’s rights, gender equality, or the rights of anyone who is marginalized, discriminated or excluded by society because of their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, class, caste, ethnicity, religion, nationality, dis/ability, occupation (eg sex workers), location (eg rural, urban) or any other factor. But ‘power’ is a very abstract idea, a big and complicated concept. Each of us understand it in our own way, within the context of the issues we work on, the people we work with, what we have read
about it, or based on our own experience of power. The purpose of this primer is to sort out the confusion and help us move to a shared understanding of power, so that all of us who are committed to social and gender justice can build our strategies from a more comprehensive, shared definition and analysis of power as it operates in society, regardless of our specific issues or socio-economic, political, and cultural contexts.
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