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Bollywood actress Preity Zinta became a brand ambassador for The Loomba Trust earlier this month in order to bring global attention to the plight of millions of widows and their children, something she feels is long overdue.

“I fully understand and empathize with the problems faced by widows,” said Zinta. “My mother was widowed when I was only thirteen.”

Social discrimination, financial instability, human trafficking and physical and mental abuse are some of the concerns for women who have become disadvantaged and marginalized through the loss of a spouse. The Loomba Trust has been running programs in India, South Africa, Kenya, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to provide support and assistance to widows through various means, including literacy education, training and employment.

“Development programs with specific focus on widows and their children are vital for the improvement of women’s status in society,” says Zinta, “and of their protection against the worst cases of exploitation and abuse.”

Campaigning in support of the creation of an International Widows Day, The Loomba Trust says, “There is hope that interest in widows and their plight will trigger gender sensitive reform of national laws and policies and help in eradicating anti-widow superstitions, traditions and social practices which should have no place in today’s world.”

“The recognition would be instrumental in encouraging emancipation of widows,” says Raj Loomba, founder and chairman, “and also draw the attention of governments to their challenges.”

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