Last November, American women made history when a record number of women won seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. This was not just a win for women. Research shows that when women have decision-making power, communities as a whole benefit.

Yet in many developing countries around the world, women struggle to even have a voice in their own homes. However, global development practitioners are finding that when women have more economic freedom, they often also gain voice and agency at the household level, community level and even beyond.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty, discrimination and exploitation. Globally, they bear the lion’s share of unpaid household work, which according to a recent Oxfam report would be equal to about $10 trillion in annual sales at a single company – or about 43 times that of Apple. If they do have access to employment opportunities, they’re often insecure, low-wage jobs, according to UN Women. Gender discrimination also hampers their access to assets – like land and loans – and their ability to make economic and social decisions.

All in all, poverty cannot be eradicated without gender equality.

That’s why development organizations and agencies have been focused on reaching women with economic empowerment programs. These include savings, cash transfers, microcredit, financial literacy training, skills training, cooperatives, market access, and other initiatives to help them gain access to economic resources.

Read the full story about how women's economic empowerment energizes political participation by Joanne Lu at Global Washington.