Priyanka Chopra speaks at a panel discussion, where the health ministry and the World Health Organization’s Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health announced they will co-host a conference to raise awareness and highlight global action for women and children’s health, in New Delhi, April 11. (Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)
Priyanka Chopra says women have the “superpower” to balance career with family and it is high time men understood that their aspirations are equally important, writes Shubha Dubey.
The 35-year-old actor, who entered the film industry soon after winning the Miss World title at the age of 18, credits her parents, especially her father, for understanding her dreams and helping her achieve them.
“I came from a family where everyone questioned my decision to become an actor. There was a big debate in my house. But my parents, especially my father said, ‘I am standing by her in whatever she wants to do. I will make sure nothing wrong happens to her.’ He kept his promise. He was with me always till I was 23. He used to be my manager. I had the support of my father,” Priyanka told PTI in an interview.
“The men in the world need to understand that as soon as you empower a woman, as soon as you give her the opportunity to be her best, she can handle both family and career. I feel boys can’t tackle both. Look at the medals at Commonwealth Games, most of them have been won by women because they had this opportunity,” she says.
The actor believes society needs to be more open towards the idea of women being ambitious. She says people have still not warmed up to the idea of a career-oriented woman.
“Girls being ambitious is still like… ‘haw kitni ambitious hai!’ (she is so ambitious!). Women have the superpower where they can manage their family and their ambition together. Just because a woman is working, it does not mean she won’t be able to take care of her family. My mother was a working woman. She is double MD. She raised two children, who seem to be alright. We need to separate the two things,” she says.
Priyanka, who has always been upfront about her ideas on issues pertaining to gender equality and women’s health, says being an entertainer gives her a platform to spread awareness about various social causes.
“I take my social responsibility very seriously. I know I am an influencer. I know because of being an entertainer, I have the ears of people. They will listen to me. I like to use the platform to be able to make a change. I know what my life would have ended up being had my parents not taught me to be the way I am. So, I like to take that opportunity, especially when I believe in a cause.”
The actor, however, does not think working for social welfare is solely a celebrity’s job. She believes promoting a cause is a personal decision and celebrities should not be expected to behave like superheroes.
“So many people ask me ‘you are celebrity, what do you do for the world?’ People never ask themselves what they have done. As an entertainer, it is my job to entertain people and I am doing it. And I don’t understand why celebrities are expected to do everything and solve world problems. I am doing this because I want to.
“I am a strong believer that each one of us needs to be socially responsible. But it is an individual’s decision. For me, it is important that I will fly down in the middle of my shoot just for 12 hours. But everybody can’t be expected to have the same standard. And I do think, we tend to sometimes think that actors should be perfect, but we are not… We are humans,” says Priyanka.
Priyanka, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, flew down to Delhi from Dublin, Ireland, to formally introduce the 2018 Partners’ Forum, a platform which works towards improving the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents.
The actor says despite being a public figure, she does not censor her opinions to fit the popular narrative which sometimes lands her in trouble.
“… I am logical, but not careful. That is why I get into trouble. But I speak from my heart and I know I don’t have any malice. I know there are people out there who are waiting with a magnifying glass to see if I speak something wrong. I always hope that I don’t say something wrong and if I say I am not shy to apologize. But if I am not wrong, I will defend myself,” she says.