New Bollywood Actress, International Recording Artist and UNICEF India Ambassador Priyanka Chopra met with young women in Chandrapur, India, to mark International Youth Day and to witness how their lives are being transformed through the Building Young Futures programme, which is run in partnership with Barclays.
Priyanka Chopra has been supporting UNICEF’s adolescent work in India for eight years. During her visit she met young women from the Building Young Futures programme, locally known as Deepshikha, and saw how they are being empowered to help fulfil their potential.
Building Young Futures is a global partnership between Barclays and UNICEF that aims to unlock the potential of young people from disadvantaged communities. Through the programme in India young women are receiving peer to peer support in developing the life, enterprise and financial skills they need to overcome the challenges they face to become strong, financially independent women as well as agents of change in their communities. This includes learning how to save, building business plans, developing their own enterprises and learning how to network as well as building confidence, understanding girl’s rights and leadership skills.
In India there are around 243 million adolescents who are facing rising youth unemployment . Life can be particularly hard for young women as they face the challenges of limited economic opportunities and access to training and employment, which reinforce broader issues of discrimination, early marriage, violence and poverty.
Priyanka Chopra said: “Girls have the ability to transform their own lives, develop their own enterprises and help grow India’s economy. The Building Young Futures programme being implemented by UNICEF in collaboration with Barclays is giving them the vital skills and support they need to make this happen.
”I met girls who have experienced incredible hardship in their lives. Building Young Futures has given them a voice and confidence, or ‘daring’ as they call it. These girls are working together, setting up businesses, planning their futures; they are empowered to handle the challenges life throws at them. I strongly advocate that parents, care-givers and educators must give the girls more and more opportunities to grow in their lives."
In India, by 2015, Building Young Futures will have empowered around 100,000 girls and young women directly and another 200,000 girls through the programme being scaled up by the Maharashtra Human Development Commissionerate. The programme depends on UNICEF, Barclays and the Government of Maharashtra sharing their expertise. It has helped these young women to build confidence, knowledge and skills, which gives them choices and the opportunity to build sustainable livelihoods. The girls take their strength, and determination back into their communities, effecting significant change and helping to transform the wellbeing of even more women and children.
Ram Gopal, Chief Operating Officer, Barclays India, said: “Barclays is committed to supporting young people to develop the skills to fulfil their potential. Through Building Young Futures, we are able to empower these young women in India, teach them that they are equal to men, and help provide them with the skills they need to become economically empowered individuals. Building Young Futures is part of our global goal to support five million young people in becoming the next generation of achievers.”
Louis-George Arsenault, Representative for UNICEF India, explained: “Adolescence is an age of opportunity and UNICEF is committed to investing in young people and enabling them to transform society. The Deepshikha programme, which is currently being implemented in some districts of Maharashtra with the support of Barclays, has been extremely successful in providing girls and young women with the skills and confidence to start their own enterprises and we look forward to expanding this programme across the state and more widely in India.”
Priyanka met girls including Sadhana Chaudhari, who was discriminated against by her family and had to leave school early with limited skills. Sadhana, now 23 years old, runs her own tailoring business, and is setting up a group sanitary napkin business with other girls from her village. She has become a leader in the programme, or Prerika as they are locally known, and is determined to pass what she has learnt onto other women in the community.
“Joining the Building Young Futures Deepshikha programme was a turning point in my life,” says Sadhana. “The Building Young Futures/ Deepshikha programme has given me confidence and now I can support my family. I come to the training as I learn a lot from this. I cannot do anything sitting at home, so I must come out and take charge of my own destiny.”
In India Building Young Futures is locally known as Deepshikha. To find out more visit www.buildingyoungfutures.org.