Mumbai: On Sunday, Priyanka Chopra said that Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela have both had a great influence in her life because of their compassion for children.
Speaking at the end of a fleeting visit to Johannesburg and neighbouring Zimbabwe, Priyanka said she feels both Mandela and Gandhi bring South Africa and India together and "we'll always be together because of that relationship."
"Both these great men stood for the rights of children and talked about how children were the foundation of our society, and our society can never get better if we ignore our children," the actress told reporters.
"Their learnings are always examples not just to me, but to the children of both our countries and to all of us," she said.
"Not only because I share my birthday with Madiba (Mandela's clan name used as a term of endearment), which I do feel I am very special about and I do show off about a little, but also because of the man that he was and what he stood for," said the 34-year-old actress.
Chopra was the chief guest as UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador at the first fundraiser in Johannesburg last night, helping raise 600,000 rands for projects to curb child abuse.
She related harrowing tales of children subjected to sexual abuse by close family members that she met in Zimbabwe and Soweto, calling on the media to rather focus on creating awareness around this than reporting on her falling in public or what clothes she was wearing.
"We do tend to get a little desensitized towards the future of our children who are the future of our countries.”
“The biggest reason for this, my first trip outside of India as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, was because the statistics are staggering. One out of three children under the age of 18 in Zimbabwe have faced some or the other form of sexual violence and in South Africa, that number is one out of five," Chopra said.
She urged people not to concentrate on the statistics but to think about what could be done as individuals to save children from this and to promote the activities of UNICEF.
"Use us, I want to be used!" Chopra declared as she explained the role of UNICEF ambassadors being ‘a means to an end’ in achieving this.
Commenting on the role of cinema in promoting anti-child abuse activities, she said there was no moral obligation on anyone in any art medium to reflect this because their artistic creativity should not be tampered with....