The Longwe Framework is intended to help planners question what women’s empowerment and equality means in practice, and to assess critically the extent to which a development project is supporting this empowerment. The ultimate aim of this Framework is to achieve women’s empowerment by enabling women to achieve equal control over the factors of production and participate equally in the development process alongside men. It may be better used as part of a 'tool kit', rather than as a stand-alone framework. Tools include:

  • Levels of equality: The Framework centers on the concept of five hierarchical levels of equality (Control, Participation, Conscientization, Access, and Welfare), which indicate the extent to which women are equal with men and have achieved empowerment. The levels of equality can be used to assess the likelihood of development interventions promoting equality and women's empowerment.

  • Level of recognition of women's issues: Identifies the extent to which the project objectives are concerned with women's development as a means of establishing whether women's issues are ignored or recognized. 'Women's issues' refer to all issues concerned with women's equality in any social or economic role and involving any of the levels of equality. Three different levels of recognition of women's issues are identified in project design:​

    • Neutral level: Project objectives recognize women's issues, but concerns remain that the project intervention does not leave women worse off than before.

    • Positive level: Project objectives are positively concerned with women's issues, and with improving the position of women relative to men.

    • Negative level: Project objectives make no mention of women's issues.

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