How to empower people at a cognitive level (and build collective self-esteem)?

All of us recognize the need for resource-level empowerment of human beings such as financial empowerment, social and legal empowerment, empowerment through skill and capability building, etc.

But one of the biggest (and often hidden) challenges faced by individuals and collectives, is their deep-rooted need for cognitive empowerment.

Cognitive Empowerment means giving people self-esteem; giving them the confidence to find answers to their own challenges instead of depending on outside help; giving them the ability to reassess the dominant paradigms of wealth, success, power, etc., so that they can find the space to unfold their own potential; giving them enabling identities that allow them not just social equity, but also personal possibilities; and so on.

Equally important, cognitive empowerment also means helping people move from being ‘victims of life’ to becoming ‘creators of their destiny’. The list of such empowerment challenges can go on.

Most social change and institutional change efforts focus on addressing physical and material failures which are easily visible, leaving these cognitive failures unaddressed. This means that the solutions provided do not result in sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by communities and nations across the planet.