The Baywatch and Quantico star talks to Ashok Kumar of OneWorld South Asia on issues related women’s empowerment.OneWorld South Asia: Priyanka Chopra dared to dream in her life. Why do you think Indian girls should also dream like her to make it big in life?
Priyanka: I don’t think they should dream like me. But, yes they should definitely dream, period!
Girls around the world have been told for the longest time that they do not have the right to dream, that they don’t have the right to live.
They have been told that they don’t have the right to go to school and they don’t have the right to choose who they should marry.
OWSA: You are supporting many social causes. What is that one cause that is dear to you?
Priyanka: As a woman, I feel very strongly about a lot of things. I am willing to do a lot of things. And, I don’t think there is a need to say one thing is more important than the other.
But the one thing that I definitely stand for strongly is about helping the future generation, globally, of both girls and boys, adolescents, in understanding what their best potential is. That is the most important cause for me irrespective of how, with whom or where I do it.
OWSA: Why is it important for girls to stand up for themselves?
Priyanka: Girls should be taught that no one else will fight on their behalf but themselves. So, the basic right of a girl is what is required and if we don’t fight for it ourselves I am sure no one else is going to do.
Mothers should teach boys to respect girls and men should come forward to educate girls. They can play a big role in changing the mindset. Women should harness their entrepreneurship skills and talent which is necessary for leading an independent life.
Feminism needs two things. One is that women should take care of each other. Women should encourage and support women instead of feeling jealous of each other.
OWSA: How do you think it will help people if they look up to celebrities?
Priyanka: People should look up to people they want to look up to and not just any celebrity. I don’t think so. I think you need to look up to people you admire and not just because someone is famous, no, not at all.OWSA: Why do you think girls are not welcome in our society even at their birth?
Priyanka: I feel 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 start discriminating against girls and that leads us to a vicious cycle of boy preference.
Parents don’t send their girls out as they are scared of crimes like kidnapping and rapes haunting girls so frequently. Despite challenges, parents should take chance on their daughters as they have the same capabilities of a guy.
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.
OWSA: What kind of struggles did you face in your life and how did you overcome them?
Priyanka: Struggles never end in life. People think that just because you are successful you struggles have ended, but it is not like that.
Success is not a destination. Like, for example, if I get hundred per cent in my board exams and think I am super successful, it is wrong to think like that. If you get A in every exam you are bound to come first in a class. If every day you could do to the best of your ability, no one can deny you success.
Your struggles need to be consistent because success is like a journey. You have to strive for excellence every year, every time. There is no substitute for hard work for anybody.
OWSA: Why do you think even educated people prefer boys?
Priyanka: The country wants boys. Nobody wants girls. The sex ratio is going down because girls are not wanted. Only boys can’t lead the generation.Not just in India but across the world girls are told that they are second grade persons. We need to understand that men can’t do anything alone. Young generation holds the power of this country and men should come forward to educate and empower girls.