'Upliftment' in South Africa and Asia signifies raising the economic and education status of the underprivileged or marginalised communities/groups. Is there a British/American word (which is not slang) which is a synonym?

  • 3
    Just 'uplift' is a noun which works in US English.
    – Mitch
    Aug 4, 2020 at 15:09
  • Erection? Short (well in some cases) and sweet (certainly).
    – David
    Aug 4, 2020 at 19:09
  • I would define "raising the economic status" as development.
    – Tyler N
    Aug 5, 2020 at 19:01

4 Answers 4


Although there is nothing wrong with raising itself, as used in the question, I think an even more suitable word to use elevate:

2 : to raise in rank or status
    // was elevated to chairman
3 : to improve morally, intellectually, or culturally
    // great books that both entertain and elevate their readers

It can also be used in the context of economic status.

As such:

They elevated the economic and educational status of the underprivileged and marginalized communities.

The noun is elevation and the adjective (as well as present participle) is elevating.


I would suggest the word empowerment in the context of 'raising the economic and education status of the underprivileged or marginalised'.

The problem for such people is not, actually, the lack of the thing they lack. The problem is the lack of power needed to obtain such things for themselves.

Thus the 'upliftment' is not the act of giving them things.

It is the act of giving them power.

Empowerment :

the act or action of empowering someone or something : the granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties

Merriam Webster

The state or fact of being empowered; the action or an act of empowering; (now) esp. the fact or action of acquiring more control over one's life or circumstances through increased civil rights, independence, self-esteem, etc.

Oxford English Dictonary

HP woman beats disability on road to empowerment.

A Himachal village woman, who has come to limelight for selling handmade pine- needle ‘rakhis’, has traversed a long journey towards self empowerment.

The Statesman - 4th August 2020


A hypernym that perhaps fits somewhat better than is usually the case is

emancipation [noun]

[1] The fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions; liberation.

  • the emancipation of feminist ideas


[Wikipedia] gives the most appropriate definition, the relevant sense, here:

Emancipation is any effort to procure economic and social rights, political rights or equality....



While investment does not include the same elevation metaphor, it is the actual process by which upliftment happens. Marginalized communities are marginalized in many ways, but their "lower" educational and economic statuses are, generally the result of underinvestment and divestment. Money and other resources have not been invested in the communities' development, whether internally or externally.

Often prejudice is behind that lack of investment (external actors do not value the community enough to invest in it, and, internally, the community is barred from acquiring the resources to invest) but the underinvestment is the/a material consequence which, in turn, prevents development.

In an easy game of prefixes, then, investment is the opposite of underinvestment, and the way in which communities are "uplifted".


Already used in the above, development also describes this process, with less explicit reference to finances, with more room for policy design, and with a much stronger narrative of progress.

See community development and international development.

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