Last week in The Atlantic, Maria Shriver wrote a moving article on poverty in America today and the implications for women. In the piece, Ms. Shriver advocates for women to come together to push for policies that will help all women in this country achieve the American Dream of prosperity. Yet, her inspiring words have implications far beyond the U.S. Around the world, women are disproportionately poor; hence Ms. Shriver’s focus on the female face of poverty. We need to bring visibility to these women, and the challenges they face, as well.

Like American women working at minimum wage, without paid sick leave, women in developing countries lack the safety nets needed to foster both security and prosperity.

Like American women working at minimum wage, without paid sick leave, women in developing countries lack the safety nets needed to foster both security and prosperity. Beyond a sustainable and consistent income, this often comes down to financial services such as savings and insurance. For a woman living on $2 a day, getting sick and having to miss work or close her business can severely affect her ability to feed her family or pay school fees. Even further, health care costs can devastate a poor family. Access to financial services remains elusive for millions of women around the world, and these services – especially when tailored to her needs – could make the difference in achieving the economic security all women deserve.Ms. Shriver describes the image of poverty (or as she put it, “the new iconic image of the economically insecure American”) as “a working mother dashing around getting ready in the morning, brushing her kid’s hair with one hand and doling out medication to her own aging mother with the other.” While the image may look different outside the U.S., that very economic insecurity, the immense burdens of both supporting and managing a household, are very much a reality for poor women globally.

Ms. Shriver also talks about “empowerment,” and rightly notes that this concept goes far beyond the modern idea of “having it all.”  At Women’s World Banking, we believe that access to financial tools and resources is very much tied to empowerment. Empowerment is the self-perception of worth, the space for a woman to make decisions that will impact her life. The power of women, politically and as consumers, will go a long way toward the policy changes in this country that Ms. Shriver calls for. Yet, especially in countries where women do not yet have that collective power, there is a need to first focus on the empowerment of the individual.

Ms. Shriver ends with a call to action, “a new campaign for equity, for visibility, for fairness, for worth, for care.” Here at Women World Banking, we want to take that campaign global and build a world where millions more women can achieve security and prosperity for themselves and their families!