‘Honoured to formalise my association with the organisation’

Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra was appointed on Tuesday UNICEF National Ambassador for promoting child rights and adolescence. She follows the footsteps of Amitabh Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore in supporting the UNICEF's work in India and abroad.

Ms. Chopra said she was honoured to formalise her association with UNICEF. She was quietly working with the organisation to generate awareness about a number of causes relating to children.

“I neither represent the government nor am I the president of the country. But as an actor of the Hindi film industry, I can lend my voice for disseminating the crucial message that all children, irrespective of caste, colour, sex and religion, have a right to live, eat, attend schools and fulfil their aspirations. It is important to sensitise children, especially adolescents about their rights. I don't want to make empty promises but I am at a stage in my career when I can give something back to society,” she noted.

Thanking her doctor parents for instilling in her the values of education, Ms. Chopra said they gave her the freedom to fulfil her dreams.

“When I visited slums recently to interact with underprivileged adolescents, I realised how lucky I was to have been blessed with such wonderful parents. The unfortunate girls there were forced to work because their brothers had to get education; some of them were already married and had kids,” she said at a press conference here.

Ms. Chopra said from her gynaecologist mother she learnt that if she could educate even a single girl then she could educate her entire family.

“When I use the word education, I do not mean academic qualifications like doing a Ph.D., but the girl should have knowledge about reproductive healthcare, sanitation, education and her right to live with dignity. We want girls living in urban slums and rural areas to stand on their own feet and look after their entire family. Parents have a duty to ensure that their children are allowed to achieve their full potential.”

The actor asserted that the movement pioneered by UNICEF would continue to spread and it would always be there to make an impact on the lives of people.

“As for the suggestion that I won't be able to fulfil my duties as ambassador of UNICEF because of my hectic film schedules, all I can say is that as an actor for the past 10 years I have done numerous films, advertisements and also taken out time for doing social work. When I can do noble work for those who need it the most when my career-graph is ascending, then I can certainly continue it for the next decade. Even when I won't appear on the silver screen I will support the movement as a human being.”

Ms. Chopra said cynics treated her as just a pretty face without realising that she was an extremely committed person who does not believe in doing things half-heartedly.

“A shining star”

UNICEF India representative Karin Hulshof described Ms. Chopra as a shining star of Indian cinema. She was equally passionate about her work on behalf of children and adolescents, she pointed out.

“We are proud of the work she has done with us so far on child rights and we are thrilled about what we will be doing together so that no child gets left behind. With her unwavering commitment to child rights, Priyanka will help to make the world a better place for children,” she said.

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