Marcia Cross, the brand ambassador for PLAN’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ initiative, talks about the need to address gender inequality and safety of young girls. Postnoon gets talking to this actress with a golden heart
PLAN has been working on several issues related to children for 70 years now. What was your motivation to support their cause?
I think it started with my own wish to get married and have kids. When that didn’t happen for a long time, I came across an advertisement to sponsor a child and that’s where it all began. Ten years ago, I sponsored a child who’s from Zimbabwe and since then I have been associated with all the good work they have been doing in over 70 countries. The best part is that they are not just giving handouts but they are working to give opportunities that will empower young men and women to make a choice of their own when they grow up. I am a mother of two girls now and I would definitely want them to continue this tradition of sponsoring children in other parts of the world.
This is your first visit to India. Now that you have interacted with several girls, were there any issues which surprised you?
I am quite concerned about girl safety. It’s disheartening to see girls having to cope up with eve teasing, physical and sexual abuse. They don’t talk about it but I think it’s obvious. Men and women need to be taught about the importance of personal space. You cannot violate that boundary unless you are invited in. Apart from that, several young girls drop out of school due to various reasons to support their family. PLAN has been working closely with the local partners here in India to empower children through education and vocational courses. Kids don’t need handouts, they need opportunities.
What really shocked me the most was the concept of female foeticide. It’s horrible that people see girls as a burden, but then I can’t blame the parents or anyone else about this. I reckon it’s a cultural issue in India.
You visit a slum in Kavadiguda and also met the Lambada women. Did they demand anything when you interacted with them?
Absolutely nothing, which took my by surprise. They have never seen me on TV. They just wanted to tell somebody, ‘Thank you for giving me this chance. Thank you for listening and teaching’. It was such a relief to me because they were responding to another human being.
Has your perception of India and the kind of work that PLAN has been doing changed after this visit?
My biggest fear when I decided to come here was whether the poverty and heartache will be too much for me to handle and I wondered how PLAN is doing any good in these communities. But all those fears have been allayed after I saw hundreds of faces brimming with joy, happiness and hope.
Now that you are a mother of two girls, has this cause become closer to your heart? How are you planning to carry forward this ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign?
I have two sisters and now I am a mother of two. In a way, I have always been inclined towards girls, so yeah, I guess it’s more personal now. We are planning to light up the Empire State building in pink and white on the eve of International Girl Child day to raise more awareness and funds to support PLAN’s initiatives in various countries.
Desperate Housewives, the TV series, made you incredibly popular. Do you feel a sense of vacuum now that the series is over?
Oh..no! It’s a big relief that the series is over. I do miss the people a lot but now I have a lot more time to spend with my family and friends. When I was working, I was totally cut off from my friends because of my work and family. There’s no such thing as balance. I am naturally slow paced and right now, it feels nice. I have been travelling in India for the past nine days and I terribly miss my girls.