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Miss Universe meets women who worked as manual scavangers

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

On the first day of her maiden tour to India, Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Frances Culpo today visited a village where she interacted with a group of young women who had worked as manual scavangers.

During her two-hour-long visit to Sulabh Gram in Palam Vihar here, the 21-year-old American model spoke on range of issues relating to women and said concerted efforts are required to rid the society of gender and caste-based discrimination.

"Community involvement is central to create a society without discrimination. And India has immense potential. Youth especially women form a significant part of population here. It is important for us to work towards bringing about gender equality," said Culpo.

Calling the women with whom she interacted as "mascot of change", Culpo said the society must provide equal rights to the fairer sex. Designer Sanjana Jon accompanied Culpo to the village.

Culpo and Jon will also participate in march here tomorrow to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, gender equality and sex selective abortion.

"It's important to start a conversation about HIV/AIDS. Our part is to make them understand that they're not alone. There are people who do care," Culpo, who has also been working in the US to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, said.

She said it was important to do away with the stigma attached with HIV.

"Anything is possible if women have the right attitude and are willing to work really hard. We can thrive and grow and learn from each other," said Culpo.

As a part of charity tour, she will also visit Mumbai and participate in an awareness programme which will be attended by Bollywood actor Salman Khan. It is being organised to raise awareness against sex selective abortion.

Clad in an 'Indo-western' dress with a red "bindi", Culpo expressed her love for Indian food and people. "I love the culture here."

Bindeshwar Pathak, who heads the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, felicitated Culpo for her efforts in spreading awareness about geneder equality.

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First Published: Sat, September 28 2013. 19:20 IST