Rebuilding communities : a case study of empowerment in post-conflict Rwanda : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University
Empowerment became a popular concept in the 1990s, so popular that some believe the concept has lost its impact. This thesis uses the empowerment levels of; personal, relational and community, to investigate a psychosocial intervention in the post-conflict environment. The post-conflict environment is one that is disempowering for both men and women. Rwanda, one of the most complicated and devastated post-conflict situations seen since World War II, is the location of the World Vision intervention examined in this thesis. World Vision's Personal Development Workshop aims to provide a safe environment where people can process their experiences of the genocide. They use lectures, individual exercises and small group discussions to cover the topics of understanding the grief process, dealing with emotions and the concept of forgiveness. The thesis concludes that both male and female participants of the Personal Development Workshops have been empowered at all three levels. It shows the benefit of using the empowerment approach in the community context and suggests that consideration of psychosocial interventions is crucial in post-conflict settings. The need for such interventions to be continued for many years after the conflict has ended is also identified.