Mumbai: Priyanka Chopra spent a meaningful evening yesterday, with adolescent girls associated with the Deepshikha programme that is supported by UNICEF and Barclays in Mumbai. Along with the volunteers from Barclays, she was delighted to interact with these bright and spirited young girls who shared their life experiences especially those associated with Deepshikha and their aspirations for the future.
Bollywood power player and international recording artist and Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF who has been supporting the issues of adolescent girls for over eight years has a special interest in equipping and empowering girls with relevant life skills.
UNICEF launched the ‘Deepshikha’ programme guided by a strong conviction that it is imperative to strengthen adolescent and young women’s groups through imparting life skill, enterprise skill and networking skill training. Empowerment is the heart and soul of the Deepshikha programme.
While interacting with the girls, Priyanka Chopra shared “Girls have the ability to build their own futures. I am glad to be associated with UNICEF Deepshikha programme that aims at empowering the young girls of India. My spirit runs parallel to the Deepshikha programme and I strongly advocate that parents, caregivers and educators must give the girls more and more opportunities to grow in their life. I personally feel that our regular efforts in empowering the adolescent girls will contribute to the growth of our country”
Through the Building Young Futures programme with UNICEF, Barclays has helped 65,000 girls and young women in the state of Maharashtra to develop entrepreneurial skills and build self-confidence through financial education and leadership training, empowering them to have prosperous and sustainable livelihoods. Almost 25,000 women have joined over 1,200 collective bank accounts, saving appox 30 lakhs to invest in income generating activities.
Ram Gopal, Chief Operating Officer, Barclays India, said “ Barclay’s is committed to supporting young people to develop the right skills to fulfil their potential. Along with UNICEF, we are committed to empower the society by teaching young women that they are equal to men, whilst providing them with the skills to overcome their daily challenges and become stronger individuals. Between 2012 and 2015, through the UNICEF partnership, Barclays aims to directly benefit 74,000 young people in Brazil, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Uganda and Zambia. This is part of Barclays’ ambition to change 5 Million Young Futures by 2015”
In India, almost 20 million adolescent girls (14- 17 years) are still out of school. Around 42 per cent of girls in India marry before the legal age of 18 years. 56 per cent of adolescent girls are anemic and vulnerable to poor maternal health.
Rajeshwari Chandrashekhar, Chief of Field office in Maharashtra shared, “Adolescence is an age of opportunity and UNICEF is committed to identifying key platforms and partnerships through which it can empower and equip adolescent girls with relevant lifeskills . The Deepshikha programme has been extremely successful in doing this and we look forward to expanding this progrannme across the state”
This event was an opportunity for the girls to share their experiences with Priyanka Chopra who has been advocating for an overall protective environment for adolescent girls through her visits to many adolescent girls’ projects across the country.
Deepshikha program will be scaled up and aim at working with adolescent girls and women’s self-help group members for socio-economic empowerment and to prepare them for better future.