Power within families

Women and girls hold the key to sustained development and improving the lives of others. To change a woman’s life for the better is to unlock the potential to change and lift a whole society.

~ Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary-General

Indian family celebrating the birth of their baby in a hospital Within families, there are also power imbalances. Often, men have more of some kinds of power (for example, control over resources and decision-making) than female members. Adults have more power than children.

However, millions of families all over the world operate so that the members with more power use it in the interests of those with less: parents make decisions that are in the best interests of their children, and a husband protects and supports his wife and children. But it is important to recognise that this is not always the case. The global incidence of physical, emotional and other abuse, and of economic and sexual exploitation of women and children is testimony to the misuse of power within families.

Next, we look in more detail at issues of empowerment.