This concept has three parts: resources, access, and control. The first, resources, refers to means and goods, including economic (household income) or productive means (land, equipment, tools, work, credit); political means (capability for leadership, information and organization); and time. Access and control have slightly different meanings. Access refers to the ability to use and benefit from specific resources (material, financial, human, social, political, etc.) whereas control over resources also entails being able to make decisions over the use of that resource. For example, women’s control over land means that they can access land (use it), own land (can be the legal title-holders), and make decisions about whether to sell or rent the land. Access and control over resources is a key element of women’s empowerment, and by extension, the achievement of gender equality.
Source: UN-INSTRAW (now part of UN Women), Glossary of Gender-related Terms and Concepts