News Analysis |
Nestle Pakistan presented a study titled ‘Gender Diversity: A business case’ at the 2nd Annual United Nations Women Empowerment Principles in Action in New York. This occurred concurrently with the 62nd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. A selected number of UN Women Country officers came together to share their experiences in working with the private sector. The participating countries included Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil and Kenya among others.
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Nestle is ‘the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company.’ Founded over 150 years ago in the Swiss Town of Vevey, it is now present in as many as 191 countries with about 328,000 employees. Its motto is ‘Good Food, Good Life’. In Pakistan, Nestle has been present for over two decades and has become the most popular brand in the country. According to a Nestle Pakistan CSV report, its focus areas are rural development, environmental sustainability, nutrition, water and its people.
The 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It began on the 12th of March and the two-week session is scheduled to last till the 23rd of March, 2018. The priority theme of the meeting is ‘Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls’. CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It is a global policy making body dedicated to the promotion of gender quality and empowerment of women. The Commission was established on the 21st of June in 1946, soon after the UN itself came into being. It also contributes to the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done that is in line with the theme of the plenary session of the CSW i.e. empowerment of rural women and girls.
The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs are a set of 17 universal goals that UN members states have agreed to achieve over a period of 15 years i.e from 2015 till 2030. They can be described as policy guidelines for political parties and governments in various countries to address as they also include indicators to measure the level of achievement. They are a sequel to the Millennium Development Goals or MDGS. Pakistan is a signatory to the SDGs and has firmly resolved to achieve these targets. Goal number 5 is Gender Equality. This is what the session of the Commission on the Status of Women is geared towards. The study presented by Nestle at the meeting shared Nestle Pakistan’s experience in this regard.
The 2015 Global Gender Gap Index report by the World Economic Forum revealed that Pakistan ranked second from bottom. Furthermore, 52.5% of women and girls in rural areas are likely to report having no say decisions regarding their own healthcare, according to the UN report “Turning Promises into Action-Agenda 2030”. As per this report, 98.8% of rural women from the poorest households lack proper education, with most of them having studied for only six years or less. Thus, there is a lot of work that needs to be done that is in line with the theme of the plenary session of the CSW i.e. empowerment of rural women and girls.
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Capacity building trainings are organized by Nestle Pakistan to help improve the lives for rural women. These trainings help them manage livestock, healthcare facilities for farmers at dairy farms and ultimately help rural communities by increasing incomes. In the previous years, at least 10,000 farmers were trained in this manner. Nestle Pakistan also partnered with the Benazir Income Support Program or (BISP) to empower BISP beneficiaries. Opportunities for employment and livelihood are provided, in addition to ensuring their nutrition status is improved as well as quality of life in general. Till date, over 100 such beneficiaries have become sales agents for Nestle Pakistan across the country. This approach by Nestle Pakistan is good for businesses as well as rural communities.
According to The Head of Corporate Affairs at Nestle Pakistan, Waqar Ahmed, Nestle sees gender balance as part of larger framework for diversity and inclusion. “We aim to provide a workplace culture that generates equal opportunities. Internally we provide a supportive work environment by promoting best practices such flexible working hours, maternity leave, daycare and dedicated onsite female hostel facilities,” Mr. Ahmed said. He also added that these practices also strengthen an inclusive culture and help retain female talent.
In line with the SDGS agenda for 2030 and the aims of the Commission on the Status of Women, Nestle Pakistan is committed to the idea that gender balance and empowerment of women are critical for improving the society as a whole as well as adding value to business. To achieve this objective, Nestle Pakistan has become a signatory to Women Empowerment Principles (WEP). Nearly 70% of decision makers for Nestle brands are women. Moreover, 60% of university graduates are also women. The business case for gender balance is, thus, well founded.
Jamshed M. Kazi, UN Women Country Representative- Pakistan said, “It is encouraging to note that Nestlé Pakistan’s workplace gender policies are on par with if not exceeding some of the best practices across the corporate sector globally.”