Development agencies and international policy-makers, such as USAID, the World Bank, and UNAIDS, have shifted their focus in recent years toward health and development initiatives that prioritize local capacity strengthening, in-country ownership of activism and infrastructure, and a move toward systems that will be sustainable once international funding is gone. This shift has corresponded with much of the criticism heard in literature from development and post-development theory. Recent guidance, such as the Millennium Development Goals and PEPFAR II, has underlined a focus on gender and empowering women and girls. However, these interventions frequently fail to address structural constraints that limit the achievement of actual sustainability. This paper will address the problematic nature of using women as instruments of empowerment in these scenarios, whereby structures of disempowerment are not addressed but rather women are discursively and superficially given power while not being provided with tools to achieve upward mobility. These ideas and ideologies cannot not be achieved without first addressing issues that are vital to poverty and oppression, especially the relationship between gender and power, including the issue of cathexis (or personal and emotional investment in a relationship or an idea), access to information, transportation to school and medical facilities, and an attempt to sustainably address gender dynamics, racial, and class issues. The paper will demonstrate that until these concrete barriers are tackled to achieve sustainable well-being of all humans, sustainable development will not be possible.