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UP elections: Empower women, train girls for state's progress, says Shabana Azmi

After my father, Kaifi Azmi’s death in 2002, I decided to take his dreams forward in Mijwan—the village in Azamgarh where he was born. He had visualized empowered girls and development at Mijwan.

Through the Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS), we give chikankari training to girls and have school and computer training facility for them. The girls in the village are so empowered now that they raise strong voices against child marriage and other social evils. The girls of Mijwan have walked the ramp and their designs of chikankari have been worn by superstars in designer Manish Malhotra’s show. The village today gets electricity for 14 hours, and is the chosen few for the ‘I Sparsh’ scheme of the state which aims to make it a smart village.

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The development work of the present state government has really been impressive. Whether there is change of party or the same party continues after elections, I hope to see more development and women empowerment in UP.

Women’s health, education, skill development, and their empowerment are a must for the state’s growth. Let us learn from Kerala, which allocates 40 percent funds for women’s issues at panchayat levels itself. Uplift of rural areas and power supply should also be on top of state government’s agenda. Higher education, skill development and creating job opportunities should be other focus areas of the governments.

I see a lot of young writers and actors in the film industry and most of them come from Uttar Pradesh. They do exceedingly well because their language and culture give them an edge over others. I wish UP had a film institute where aspiring youngsters get an opportunity to learn and hone their skills in cinema.

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Youngsters struggle for jobs. If there are enough jobs within the state, they wouldn’t go anywhere and contribute to his/her own state.

We have been pushing for a university in Azamgarh for long. Now that more and more children are attending school and there is a lot of emphasis on education, a university for the students of Azamgarh is a very fair demand.

It is being increasingly understood by governments in the country that only GDP isn’t the hallmark of progress and thus the focus should also be on Human Development Index including proper health services, women empowerment, education etc. The new government must be serious on such issues.

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(As told to Richa Srivastava)

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UP elections: Empower women, train girls for state's progress, says Shabana Azmi