Anupam Kher , the acclaimed Indian actor, has been named an advocate for the United Nations’ campaign on gender equality . The 60-year-old “Saaransh” star will collaborate with the world body to call on men and boys to stand up against inequalities against women and girls, thereby ending the discrimination and violence against them.
Kher was pinned as a “HeForShe” Champion by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at a ceremony here at the world headquarters of the United Nations on August 18th. The Kashmiri actor said he was honored to be named a HeForShe advocate and voiced his full support for the organization’s efforts to achieve gender equality.
“Most importantly, you have to start the change at home. You have to know how to treat your daughter, and it should not be different from the way you treat your son,” Kher told PTI. He termed the mindset of equating masculinity with overpowering or oppressing women as “ridiculous.”
“Weak men show their masculinity to women. A powerful and strong man will never do that; he will allow the women to be powerful,” he said. Kher added that men in India grow up feeling superior to women. The actor, however, feels that change is gradually taking place in India in the way women are treated but said there is still a long way to go. “There is a beginning. Things are changing in India, but the change is very silent; it doesn’t happen overnight. In a society like India, change takes a little time,” he said.
Kher also underscored the importance of making people sensitive to gender issues. He voiced hope in the young generation of India, which he said are forward-looking and have grown up in a free India without any colonial hangovers.
“I have great faith in the younger generation. I have great hope for India because of the younger generation,” he said, adding that the youth will ensure a bright future for the country. The “Baby” actor said the opportunity to work with the UN will now enable him to work “officially” on issues that he has been working on “unofficially.”
Puri said UN Women is keen to work with Kher, because, as a renowned actor, filmmaker, motivational speaker and philanthropist, he can play a key role in challenging gender stereotypes, harmful practices, discriminatory social norms and traditions, and structural values that perpetuate gender inequality and violence against women not only in India but across the world.
Kher, who has worked on over 100 plays and nearly 450 films, has been pinned to acknowledge his tremendous contribution and continuing work towards gender equality. In addition to his work in films, Kher has been deeply involved in philanthropy and has established The Anupam Kher Foundation to spread education among less privileged children and provide palliative care to people with life-limiting diseases. He has been awarded the Dalai Lama Award for his work with underprivileged children. “HeForShe” is a global movement that calls upon men and boys to stand up against inequalities faced by women and girls. More than 400,000 men have already signed on as champions.