Former star footballer David Beckham recently embarked on a four-day journey to India, to carry forward inspiring stories of girls breaking barriers and young women overcoming obstacles to narrow gender gaps.
A UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Beckham met one of the beneficiaries Rinku Pravibhai, a 21-year-old from Banaskantha, Gujarat, who after facing pressure to marry at 15, turned to a UNICEF-supported young girls group. With its support, Rinku called off her engagement and is now pursuing a nursing degree.
Moved by these encounters, Beckham emphasised, “As a father of a young daughter, I was deeply moved to meet Rinku and other young girls who are fighting for change at an early age and having a say in their futures.”
Beckham engaged with community workers, officials, and activists dedicated to ensuring children continue their education while combating child marriage and labour. He expressed admiration for the young innovators at the Vikram Sarabhai Children Innovation Centre.
The visit also spotlighted UNICEF’s collaboration with the Government of India to invest in girls’ education, fostering their confidence and skills to become future entrepreneurs and leaders.
In Ahmedabad, Beckham interacted with the Gujarat Youth Forum, encouraging young change-makers like 12-year-old cricketer Pratha Vanar and 14-year-old author Aarya Chavda.
Addressing the gender inequalities during the pandemic in South Asia, Beckham joined forces with cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar at the ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final in Mumbai. They championed UNICEF’s partnership with the International Cricket Council, advocating for equal opportunities for girls and boys in sports and life.
Beckham remarked, “I have always been a strong believer in the power of sport in levelling the playing field for children.”
UNICEF India Representative Cynthia McCaffrey underscored the mission, stating, “UNICEF is deeply committed to supporting the Government of India so every child can survive, thrive and pursue their dreams. The quest for gender equality runs at the core of all of UNICEF’s work in India.”