After making heads turn with her picture-perfect debut at Cannes earlier this week, Priyanka Chopra landed in Ethiopia to fulfil her duties as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and shared an inspiring Instagram post about a teenager who stood against child marriage.
Chopra is in Ethiopia to highlight UNICEF’s education programme for children – that include refugees and natives battling poor economy and conservative social practices. But this story of a girl standing up to child marriage is winning hearts.
Sharing photos with 15-year-old Hasina, the actor spoke about how at the young age of 12, the girl took a stand and stopped her own marriage.
“She is a 7th grade student who loves to go to school,” Chopra said in her introduction to the teenage. Talking how “her sisters’ husband was arranging her marriage to one of his friends…without her knowing,” Chopra wrote about how the girl defied all “norms” and fought for her own rights.
“One day when the man visited her house to pester her parents to marry her, she escaped to a friends house and the next day went to one of the community-based child’s marriage prevention platforms (alone), which she had heard about at school. She asked herself, if she married now, would she ever go back to school again? Hasina loves learning and wasn’t willing to trade her education or freedom for anything. That gave her the courage to stand up for herself. The community, along with the authorities, stepped in and stopped the marriage. The man was charged,” Chopra wrote in her post.
“It’s important to understand that it takes an immense amount of courage to go against these cultural “norms” that have existed for centuries. Hasina is a very brave girl. It was so heartening to see the elders in the community learning from the examples these young girls are setting, standing up against child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting. Education gave these girls that perspective. This community is an example of how change is possible. FEMALE RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS,” the actor wrote.
In another post, Chopra also wrote that although there has been a surge in student enrollment in schools, there is still a lot needed to be done as there are not only lack of funds to run schools but also a scarcity of teachers and other basic amenities.
Explaining how grave the situation is, she shared another inspiring story of a refugee teacher, an eighth-grade student herself, has taken up the task of teaching little kids from class one to four, so that she can support her own education.
UNICEF says Ethiopia has 906,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers mainly from neighbouring South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. Chopra who is there to promote access to education for refugee children, lauded the country in an interview to Associated Press and said it’s “incredible, given that Ethiopia itself is not such a well-to-do country.” She said the world should learn from the government’s commitment to refugee children’s welfare.