Priyanka Chopra needs no introduction. The internationally known actress and singer won the Miss World beauty pageant in 2000 and stepped almost instantly into the film industry, from where there has been no looking back.
While she is now grabbing eyeballs in the popular TV series Quanitco, her work has always extended beyond just her commitment to her roles. Priyanka has long been associated with social causes, and was appointed as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights in 2008. She also supports causes related with education, women’s rights, and is particularly vocal about gender equality.
According to UNICEF, 61 lakh children in India are out of school right now, and around one crore are engaged in work. Some 3,500 children die everyday, before reaching the age of 5 years. Girls are neglected in India when it comes to education. But they too deserve an equal chance in life. UNICEF’s FairStart campaign aims to provide every child an opportunity to get an education.
Priyanka Chopra was recently in Delhi for the launch of FairStart. I asked her about the poor sex ratio in Haryana.
“Parents generally think that their daughters will get married and go away to their in-laws. But having a son will bring money, stability. After they become old, the son will take care of them. Therefore, mostly parents want to have sons rather than daughters.”
What is her message for children?
“My message is for every child, rich or poor. It is their right to get a good education and basic facilities so that in future he or she can become a great citizen of our country.”
How can she help change the mindset of people?
“We, as a society, can change the parents’ mindset. Parents always think that girls are a burden for them. They are worried and are least concerned about giving them a proper education. This kind of attitude can be changed by creating awareness about the importance of educating daughters. Being a woman, I am always concerned about girls education. We should take care we don’t differentiate between daughters and sons. Even in this day and age, there are many places where parents do not want to send their daughters to school. They want to marry them off before they turn18. They are worried their daughters may get into trouble and are concerned about their safety.”
Can an individual be the change-maker?
“I think anyone can take up this issue and start helping children. Why not we start FairStart in our own homes and help educate our domestic help’s daughter or son? If everyone starts with even one child, maybe all kids will have a chance to go to school. One can also start by helping street kids.”
What does she think about the plight of refugee children?
“I believe in humanity but all over the world, violent incidents are on the rise. The work of UNICEF requires a lot of hard work and dedication. If many countries can help popularise and support this initiative, millions of children can get a shot at a better life.”