This article investigates empowerment in relation to money-earning activities in the context of rural-to-urban migrant women in poor families in Turkey. Acknowledging the exploitative character of employment accessible to migrant women, it asks whether working migrant women gain something in their families in return for their economic contributions. The article points to the traditional role of men as the heads of the family and family honor (namus) as the cultural basis which acts against the empowerment of migrant women in Turkish society. It attempts to understand empowerment as articulated by the women themselves based upon their lived experiences. While doing so, it examines women's positions in the family with regard to their role in the intra-family decision making, their degree of control over their earned money, and male violence in the family. It further discusses whether or not the experiences of migrant women can be considered as empowerment, and in this way it aims to contribute to the theoretical development of the concept "empowerment." (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.