Unlocking Women's Economic Opportunity

It's been one year since world leaders gathered at the United Nations to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a critical set of commitments by global leaders to end poverty, safeguard our environment and achieve gender parity within the next 15 years. On this one-year anniversary, we should be proud of our progress thus far on the global development agenda - but also recognize how much more still needs to be done.

As we work to advance the SDGs, I am particularly focused on the benefits of unlocking women's economic potential. At Tupperware Brands, I've witnessed firsthand what can be achieved when women have access to the opportunities and resources they need to succeed. I've heard countless stories about how our 3 million sales force members, most of whom are women, have been able to improve their economic footing. In Mexico, for example, 99% of our female sales force have improved their financial situation, and as a result, 50% have doubled investments in their children's education.

While microfinance, education and training are much-discussed components of advancing economic opportunity for women, there are two other essential success factors that I've observed:

Confidence is key.

Confidence is often thought of as a "soft" attribute in the business world. On the contrary, I believe that confidence is the engine of economic success - and that it's especially important for women. Across cultures and countries, men report higher levels of self-esteem. This "confidence gap" exists in developed and emerging markets alike, and often begins in classrooms where boys are more outspoken than girls. Confidence is an intrinsic motivator, inspiring action and prompting leadership development. As a deeply rooted attribute within each individual, confidence can be bolstered through education, sparked by opportunity and nurtured through organizational culture. Confidence is transformative.

Relationships matter.

Across economies - both within corporate structures and in informal economies - women and men approach work differently. I've observed that women excel at leveraging their relationships - tapping the colleagues, friends, and family who make up their professional and social circles to solve challenges and meet goals. Within a corporate structure, it's key for women to seek out senior leaders who can serve as their advocates. Among entrepreneurs like our sales force, connecting with others is how they grow their businesses. We encourage these relationships, knowing that they support our team members' career advancement and bolster our business.

Aligned with the SDGs, closing gender gaps is a business imperative for Tupperware Brands, and the economic empowerment of women is -- and always has been -- the mission of our entire company. Within the last year, Tupperware Brands has achieved our own gender parity goals. Fifty percent of our Board of Directors are women, compared to the international average of 17 percent, and 61 percent of new hires within the last year were women.

Gender parity is not only good for the bottom line of our company, but also for our communities. When women work, they invest 90% of their income back into their families, compared with 35% for men. As such, when women succeed professionally and earn a living wage, it creates a positive ripple effect, extending to their families, communities and countries. This paves the way for poverty alleviation and inclusive economic growth, supporting the next generation of workers, families and communities. If realized at scale, the positive benefits of women's economic empowerment are staggering.

The SDGs are officially known as "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development." Women's economic empowerment can and does transform our world, enabling more sustainable, inclusive economies. As we continue progressing toward the SDGs, I call on all global leaders - from the public, private and NGO sectors - to prioritize the economic empowerment of women and help close the global gender gap for good.