Empowerment is the social, cultural, psychological or political process through which individuals and social groups are able to express their needs, present their concerns, devise strategies for involvement in decision-making, and achieve political, social and cultural action to meet those needs.
Through empowerment people are able to combine their goals in life and a sense of how to achieve them or in other words see a relationship between their efforts and life outcomes.
Health promotion not only encompasses actions directed at strengthening the basic life skills and capacities of individuals, but also at influencing underlying social and economic conditions and physical environments which impact upon health.
In this sense health promotion is directed at creating the conditions which offer a better chance of there being a relationship between the efforts of individuals and groups and subsequent health outcomes.
There is a distinction between individual and community empowerment.
Individual empowerment refers primarily to the individual's ability to make decisions and have control over his or her personal life in health promotion.
Community empowerment involves individuals acting collectively to gain greater influence and control over the determinants of health and the quality of life in their community, and is an important goal in community action for health.
World Health Organization, Health Promotion Glossary, 1998, Geneva WHO