Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra tells girls that education is pathway to better future

Celebrities, Girls' education

Indian film star and singer Priyanka Chopra has given a boost to girls and young women who are working hard to overcome challenges such as child marriage and being forced to drop out of school.

The Bollywood actress marked International Youth Day on August 12 by visiting a small village near Chandrapur in Maharashtra state.

There she saw the results of the Building Young Futures programme, run by UNICEF and Barclays to empower adolescent girls.

Priyanka, a UNICEF India Ambassador for eight years, said: “It’s taking young people and telling them ‘You are so much more than people tell you, so much more than even you think’.”

In a blog for CNN, she added: “In Maharashtra, like many other states in India, girls are held back by not completing education, early marriage, ignorance around health issues, and lacking financial understanding and a voice for decision making.

“We owe them a better life, which in itself will have a positive impact on our nation and society as a whole.

“If we can educate more girls, provide them with employment opportunities and give them the right life skills, their world will open up!”

Because of the Building Young Futures programme, more girls in India are saying no to early marriage and insisting on continuing their education. The programme enables disadvantaged young people to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to set up a small business or find a job.

During her visit, Priyanka met Sadhana, who was forced to drop out of school and go to live relatives because her family considered her a burdem.

Now 23, she went through the programme and is a community leader, holding training session to help other girls build confidence. With her father now too ill to work, she runs a tailoring business to support her family and has re-enrolled in school.

Sadhana said: “Now I know a girl is no less than a boy.”

You can also watch a CNN video of Priyanka’s visit to Chandrapur.

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