"Beti hoon mai tara banoongi," Bollywood actor and UNICEF India ambassador Priyanka Chopra, sang joining the young girls in Chandrapur, to mark the International Youth Day.
She was interacting with them after witnessing how their lives are being transformed through the Building Young Futures programme, called Deepshikha in its Maharashtra chapter.
Chopra who has been supporting UNICEF's work with adolescents in India for eight years told dna, "It is very inspiring to see how they are being empowered to help fulfil their potential."
She spoke movingly about how more than eight of the 30 girls she met wanted to be police officers. "They feel that will give them the strength to stand up to violence and harassment that girls have to face. I think this is beautiful," said the actor, adding, "Who would have known that this programme would grow and become such a big movement when we started working in Marol slum with only 25 girls."
She was particularly moved after meeting Sadhana Chaudhari, who was discriminated against by her family and had to leave school early with limited skills. Sadhana, 23, runs her own tailoring business, and is setting up a group sanitary napkin business with other girls from her village.
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.
Chopra averred, "Girls have the ability to transform their own lives, develop their own enterprises and help grow India's economy. This programme is giving them vital skills and support they need to make this happen."
She spoke about meeting girls who have experienced incredible hardship in their lives. "This initiative is giving them a voice and confidence, or 'daring' as they call it. They are working together, setting up businesses, planning futures; they are empowered to handle the challenges life throws at them."
Deepshikha is a global partnership between Barclays and UNICEF that aims "to unlock the potential of young people from disadvantaged communities," representative for UNICEF India Louis-GeorgeArsenault said, "Through the programme, 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.
Around 100,000 girls and young women directly and another 200,000 girls will benefit through the programme being scaled up by the Maharashtra Human Development Commissionerate.