When she is not busy hopping across continents shooting for films and TV series, Priyanka Chopra speaks up for child rights as UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador.
In Delhi on Tuesday to promote UNICEF’s #fairstart campaign, she spoke passionately about giving every child an equal start by feeding, schooling and caring for them when they fall sick.
The campaign video, which uses nursery rhymes as background music, shows the stark differences in the conditions in which Indian children live.
“Every child, no matter what demographic they come from, no matter what economic background they come from, what caste, creed, region or religion they come from, they all deserve a fair start because that’s the future of our nation,” said the actress, adding that everyone can contribute towards this future in their own small way.
“You don’t need to donate your entire salary; you don’t need to do anything drastic. But, maybe you could ask your maid whether she is able to educate her children, you could give them your old books perhaps. Or, when you go to school embrace them without patronizingly doing it,” she said.
She was introduced to inequality early on in life when she learned that her maid’s daughter could not go to school because the mother could pay only for her son’s education. “When she said that only bhaiya goes to school, she did not understand the implications and neither did I, but, I felt that I could have been in that position, if I did not have the parent I did,” Chopra said.
Priyanka asks parents to allow their children to talk, and to listen to what they have to say. Opinions give young girls and boys confidence and empowers them to confidentally embrace the future. She emphasized that in a young country where 30% of the people are under 30, there is need to raise empowered youth, who can take charge and make a difference.
“Parents need to empower their children to be the best version of themselves. These empowered children will be future leaders and they will take the country where it needs to go. Also, empowering a girl child will give her the strength and the confidence to take care of her own family, her own children. And, slowly there will be a ripple effect,” she said.
Sharing her experience about how she came to be an opinionated child, the actress said, “My parents always talked to me like an adult, told me every decision I took would have a pro and con and that I would have to have courage of conviction with every decision I take.
“This was since the time I was six or seven. So, I grew up feeling empowered, that I can take any decision I want and it will affect me bad or good and I will stand by it.” Her parents also taught her to be a thinker, to have an opinion.
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