"The polluters know their choices are killing our planet"
Whilst discussing the causes of climate change, Dia Mirza said the biggest issue is “egotistical men”.
The actress is on BBC’s 2023 list of the 100 most inspiring women for her involvement in “numerous environmental and humanitarian projects”.
And speaking to the BBC, she referred to the heads of multinational corporations and said:
“The biggest climate issue is a bunch of egotistical men who refuse to change.
“The polluters know their choices are killing our planet and our people, so there are really no excuses for them not to change.”
Recalling her childhood, reusing items year after year was normal and it is something Dia is doing at her home.
For example, at her son’s second birthday party, the decorations have been saved for reuse at future events.
She said: “It is necessary to walk the talk and lead by example.
“How can I advocate for sustainable living if I don’t practise it myself?”
Before making her acting debut, Dia Mirza won Miss Asia Pacific in 2000.
Reflecting on the beauty pageant, Dia stated:
“Never let anyone objectify you.
“I refused to wear a two-piece swimsuit during the Miss Asia Pacific contest as I was not comfortable.”
She began to pursue a modelling career but an industry insider told Dia she was possibly too pretty and too fair to be a model.
Dia continued: “I don’t think I was as affected by what he said as I was impacted by the fact that somebody who knew nothing about me was putting me in a box and was deciding for me what it is that I should or should not do.”
Dia says she has experienced sexism throughout her career.
She explained: “Allowances [were made] for my male counterparts for being late, being unprofessional and just the kind of hierarchy on a film set at the time was totally patriarchal, and there were so few women on set when I started working.
“We didn’t even have toilets for female actors on outside locations.”
But despite her experiences, Dia believes there are signs of improvement.
Highlighting that men would still get lead roles even when they were older, Dia said:
“There was a phase in Indian cinema when women beyond a certain age were not offered the lead roles.
“We’ve just released a film called Dhak Dhak, which is a beautiful story about four women from four different age groups who take a motorbike ride.
“It’s also only taken the Indian film industry 110 years to tell a story like this. And I’ve waited 23 years to play a part like this.”
Outside of the film industry, Dia Mirza is keen to advocate gender equality in other areas. Her 2021 wedding was officiated by a female priest.
She said: “I was very impressed with the way the female priest performed the rituals in my friend’s wedding.
“And I knew I wanted the same.
“This decision to have a female priest led to a huge online debate in India as to why women are still not allowed to perform certain duties, including being a priest.”
On being a climate campaigner, Dia added:
“Right now, I’m feeling a little despondent because of what’s happening everywhere in the world.
“But I draw hope and inspiration from young people, their innovations, their solutions, their advocacy, but most importantly, their empathy and their love.”