A Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to development has been adopted by numerous international NGOs, multilateral and bilateral agencies. In theory, the HRBA has the potential to dislodge inequalities and discrimination that perpetuate poverty. However, the implementation of the HRBA at the local level has been a challenge. This thesis is an examination of how the HRBA is operationalized at the local level by international NGOs and its actual impact on women s empowerment. In order to achieve this, a case of ActionAid s intervention on women s rights in Malawi s Rumphi district, was studied. Contrary to what an HRBA assumes, the study indicates a top-down approach during the implementation of the project. This shows that the HRBA as applied by AAM did not lead to a radical transformation of power relations among development actors namely: the donor, AAM staff, the RWF and the right-holders. This in turn limited the desired empowerment outcomes among the right-holders. The study established that there are many challenges that affect the implementation of the HRBA. These include low education levels among the right-holders, high poverty levels and lack of financial resources to implement a holistic approach. The study further indicates that the HRBA aided in filling the knowledge gap among women on various developmental issues. However, the study confirmed that such intangible benefits do not address the immediate needs of the right-holders. The study suggests that for effective poverty reduction, development actors must consider blending the HRBA with other approaches in order to address the immediate needs of the right-holders.