Priyanka Chopra Jonas visited India after almost three years, recently. The actor, who is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, visited One Stop Centers and government establishments in Lucknow and other parts of Uttar Pradesh, which are working towards the education and upliftment of young girls and women from underprivileged backgrounds in rural landscapes. And she is more than happy to see the progress being made at these centres.
“The cycle may be slow, but there is progress. Schemes are in place and are being implemented. I hope India becomes a developed country from being a developing country,” she tells us, adding, “I visited the model One Stop Centers, established by UNICEF and Government of India, where women beneficiaries are getting medical, physical, police and legal support. Apps have made it easy for anganwadi workers to keep track records. ATM Sakhi and bank correspondents are helping homemakers.”
During her visit, Priyanka says she came across many girls who are fighting for their right to education. “I met girls who were taken out of schools so that their brothers can study, those who are survivors of trafficking and sexual abuse. I’m happy that today, girls are studying and they want to get educated. None of them wanted to become Priyanka Chopra… they wanted to become doctors and engineers and pull their families out of poverty. I’m returning [to LA] very inspired. I am a new mother and I wish my daughter has the power that I saw in these girls. They are really fighting very hard to get educated. There is no age for getting educated and that [thought] alone can break the cycle,” she says.
She also calls for shedding stereotypes that surround females: “I hope the new generation contributes to the growth of the country. We need to move ahead holding our tradition and modernity. Girls are our ‘dhan’, not ‘paraya-dhan’ — this needs to be taught.”
Priyanka is happy to witness the progress at a grassroots level. Emphasising that change begins at home, she adds, “Problems in our country are aplenty — large population, stereotypes and bias against girls. All that needs to change. Also, besides implementing initiatives, we need to change from within our homes. Only then can things change on a larger-scale.”
“There is a lot of hope. Things are moving in the right direction,” she signs off.