After offering to take care of 34 girls at an orphanage in Rishikesh last year, actor Preity Zinta will now work for raising money and support for widows. On Wednesday she announced her association with The Loomba Trust as a brand ambassador for the global charity that works for the welfare of widows and their children.

Addressing the media here, the actor said having lost her father at 13, she could relate to the problems faced by women who lose their husbands. “I fully understand and empathise with the problems faced by widows; my mother was widowed when I was only 13. Global focus on widow is long overdue. Development programmes with specific focus on widows and their children are vital for the improvement of women’s status in society, and for their protection against exploitation and abuse. I look forward to working with The Loomba Trust, as its international brand ambassador, to ease the plight of widows in India and other countries.”

Cherie Blair, human rights activist and the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is also the president of The Loomba Trust, highlighted the plight of widows. Seeking more support for them, she said: “Single women, especially widows, who head households require a support structure and assistance in discharging their domestic responsibilities and in gaining access to education, training and employment.”

She said all governments have a role to play in ensuring sufficient resources and priority is given to these most vulnerable members of society. “United Nation’s specific Millennium Development Goals to reduce extreme poverty, to provide universal primary education and reduce child mortality and improve maternal health will not be met if the world continues to ignore the increasing numbers of widows and their children in the world,” Ms. Blair said.

To address the concerns of single women and help the disadvantaged and marginalised widows, The Loomba Trust and its sister charity, The Loomba Foundation, have been jointly running various projects globally.

In India, the trust educates over 3,000 children across all the States. It also supports 1,500 HIV orphans in South Africa in partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite.

Referring to Preity’s appointment as brand ambassador, Raj Loomba, founder and chairman of The Loomba Trust, said: “We are pleased to announce Preity as our brand ambassador. We are strongly supporting the creation of the ‘International Widows Day’ to be officially by the United Nations. The recognition would be instrumental in encouraging emancipation of widows and also draw the attention of governments to their challenges.”

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