Nestlé Pakistan, in collaboration with Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), organised a visit of leading women parliamentarians to its Rural Sales Programme in Pindi Bhattian on Saturday. These included Member of National Assembly (MNA) Kanwal Shauzab and Planning Ministry Parliamentary Secretary MNA Zill-e-Huma. The parliamentarians visited Pindi Bhattian where approximately 70 BISP beneficiaries have become Nestlé’s rural sales agents. These beneficiaries have collectively contributed to sales of approximately Rs 8 million in the Pindi Bhattian region.The parliamentarians visited rural sales shops being run solely by BISP beneficiaries in Pindi Bhattian. These women are involved in direct selling of Nestlé products after receiving a rigorous sales training. Another important aspect of this programme is the Nestlé — BISP Rural Sales Programme which focuses on graduating BISP beneficiaries out of poverty. The programme is based on public private partnership which focuses on creating sustainable solutions for addressing some of the key issues being faced by rural women in Pakistan such as malnutrition, financial exclusion and lack of livelihood opportunities. This transformative collaboration has enabled BISP beneficiaries to earn a dignified livelihood for themselves and their families. To date, more than 400 BISP beneficiaries have been enrolled as rural sales agents across 12 districts of Punjab and Sindh. In addition to a rigorous sales training, woman also participate in nutrition awareness sessions, especially tailored for rural women that have helped them make healthier lifestyle choices for themselves and their families. MNA Kanwal Shauzab and Planning Ministry’s parliamentary secretary while sharing views at the occasion said, “Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first priority is to eliminate poverty from Pakistan and to enhance education, nutrition, health and well-being of children and women. We have taken care of all these factors in our 12th five year plan. Our aim should be to empower women and provide them facilities through which they become self-sufficient. If today’s women are empowered then it will have a direct impact on generations to come.”Emphasising the importance of women empowerment, MNA Zill-e-Huma added, “This occasion has given me a lot of hope and encouragement for women’s stature in the economy. It is the first step towards empowerment for these women and I am positive that it will lead to betterment of their future. It is indeed a blessing to become economically self-reliant due to which they are able to earn their livelihood respectfully.” Highlighting the importance of this collaboration, Nestle Pakistan Corporate Affairs Head Waqar Ahmad said, “We value our partnership with the government and BISP. This partnership is extremely relevant, given our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 5 — No Poverty and Gender Equality. Our joint focus is on reducing poverty and promoting economic growth. Nestlé is also committed to providing greater access to fortified products to our rural society. Our products contain iron, zinc, Vitamin A and D amongst other vital micronutrients. Through this initiative, we hope to empower our rural women by providing them livelihood opportunities, along with improving their nutrition status and the quality of life for them and their families.”Published in Daily Times, December 23rd 2018.