Their faces gleaming under spotlight, teenagers Priya and Rizwana couldn't stop smiling as they shared the stage with United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who praised them for making a difference in their villages by spreading awareness about education and health through self-help groups.

Rizwana, a resident of the Kajiyana village in Jagatpur block, resisted family opposition to pursue education and raised the slogan: “ Hum angutha nahi lagana chahte, hum padhna chahte hain [We don't want to put thumbprint on papers, we want to study].”

The class VIII student created awareness about literacy, and now a majority of women in the village at least know how to write their name.

Priya, a resident of Peethi village of Bahadurpur block, worked towards spreading awareness on health issues in her village and the adjoining areas.

“After joining the scheme Sabla, my self-confidence received a boost, and now I can go anywhere,” she said from the dais on Wednesday, urging women and girls to come out of their homes and become aware of their rights.

Pursue education

Advising women and young girls on taking iron pills, and the dos-and-don'ts for better health, Priya also persuaded them to pursue education and fight for their self-respect.

Ms. Gandhi was seen nodding her head and smiling as Priya gave tips to the women. In her address, the Congress chief praised the girls for their courage and presented them mementos.

The local MP later visited the Rail Coach factory in Lalganj and inspected three-tier coaches.

She was briefed in details about the ongoing work thereafter.

Ms. Gandhi earlier arrived at Amausi airport in Lucknow on Wednesday morning on a two-day visit to her Lok Sabha constituency. — PTI