India is a very difficult country, says Priyanka Chopra

Updated: Jul 06, 2016, 18:30 PM IST

Ashok Kumar/OneWorld South Asia

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra has urged women to support women for ushering in gender equality instead of feeling jealous of each other. “Mothers should teach boys to respect girls and men should come forward to educate girls,” she said.

Talking to media and students from different schools in Delhi and Haryana, the Quantico star urged women for harnessing their entrepreneurship skills and talent necessary for an independent life.

Priyanka Chopra feels that India is a very difficult country. “We live in a society where girls are told that they are jewels of the family. A girl becomes synonymous of the family honour. To protect that honour families starts discriminating against girls and that leads us to a vicious cycle of boy preference,” she said.

She regretted that parents don’t send their girls out as they are scared of crimes like kidnapping and rapes haunting girls so frequently. “Girls should be taught that no one else will fight on their behalf, they have to fight for themselves,” she said.

Priyanka said that India is full of disparities where the difference between the privileged and the underprivileged is very stark. “Our country is like a complete world. There are different states with different cultures, languages, festivals, castes, scripts and religions. Amidst all the existing disparities, we have forgotten humanity,” she said.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra was addressing over 100 adolescents from different schools highlighting the need to give a Fair Start to every child.

The Fair Start campaign was unveiled by UNICEF India recently in the backdrop of the global advocacy efforts on Equity for Children. The campaign focusses on persisting inequities that a large number of children in India face, affecting their survival, growth and development.

Calling media the foot soldiers, Priyanka urged journalists to take the campaign to every nook and corner of the country.

The FairStart film gives an insight into the lives of thousands of children with various backgrounds, who are full of potential but less likely to grow up healthy and safe, less likely to attend school, less likely to learn, and more likely to be married as children.

Speaking on this occasion, Louis Georges Arsenault, UNICEF Representative to India called for an integrated approach to bring about change. “Changing mind-sets through awareness-raising is critical. Mobilising entire communities – in terms of political, caste and religious leaders to frontline workers, parents and children have shown positive results,” he said.

Almost 6.1 million children in India are out- of –school while around 10 million children are engaged in work in India. Also, close to 3500 children die every day before reaching age five. Approximately 42 per cent of tribal children in India are stunted in their growth and development and almost half the population of India, about 564 million people still practice open defecation.

On an average 2.22 million girls marry early every year in India, and 23% girls between 15-19 years of age experience physical or sexual violence. Chopra has been associated with UNICEF for almost a decade. In 2010, she was appointed a UNICEF National Ambassador, tasked with promoting child rights and adolescence.