Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra on Monday pledged her support to a campaign that aims to spread awareness about issues in India related to the girl child, calling on the country's youth to unite for the cause.
´Our Girls, Our Pride´, led by television network NDTV and mining and minerals group Vedanta, aims to focus on issues related to nutrition, education, health, foeticide and infanticide for girls especially up to six years of age.
Reminiscing about her experiences as a child helping her parents conduct health clinics in rural Uttar Pradesh, the former Miss World said the issues related to the girl child have always been close to her heart.
"I´ve seen so closely what happens in a lot of rural India and, now that I´ve come to know, in a lot of urban India as well - the mindsets that people have towards the girl child, how she´s looked upon as a burden," she said.
Chopra, who was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights in 2010, said having one of the youngest demographics in the world, uniquely positioned India to bring about a change.
"As a country with one of the youngest population in this up e world, it is up to us to lead a change. And I think a lot needs to be changed when it comes to the condition of the girl child in our country," she said.
Including the foeticide figures, more than 1.2 million female children are "murdered" in India every year and yet the matter has failed to cause an appropriate outcry, an activist present at the launch of the campaign said.
The classification of atrocities against the girl child and women at large as social evils rather than crimes, fails to deter perpetrators who engage in a colluded "organised crime" against them, he added.
Former Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury admitted that there were lapses in the government´s execution of measures to curb the alarming deluge of such atrocities.
"The government can do a lot in this matter but the execution of such programs has not been very good," she said, adding however that from foeticide to discrimination, the administration was committed to curbing the plight of the girl child.
At the event, Priyanka Chopra also congratulated teenagers Meenum and Razia Sultana who are leading efforts to promote education for young girls by encourage them to enrol in schools in their villages.
(Reporting by Divyanshu Dutta Roy)