Raveena Tandon is a popular Bollywood actor, producer and model, who came to critical acclaim in India in 2002 with a National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in the movie Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence. The film highlights one woman's fight against violence and suppression in the home.
Along with her acclaimed roles in Bollywood, Ms Tandon is also active in social work, especially in the field of combating child labour in India. According to UNICEF’s 2013 edition of the State of the World’s Children report, 29 million, or 12 per cent of children aged five to 14 in India are child workers.
Ms Tandon, along with the anti-child labour NGO, SETU and UNICEF, has worked towards the abolition of child workers from Indian slaughterhouses. She has also lent support to a group of former child labourers from the Experimental Theatre Foundation, helping them devise street plays in their communities with anti-child labour messages.
Since 2009, Ms Tandon has also been associated with UNICEF on the issue of maternal and neonatal healthcare and wellbeing. She joined the organization to raise awareness about the silent tragedy which unfolds across India every year, with the deaths of 78,000 women from problems arising due to childbirth and pregnancy.
She has built awareness through participating in UNICEF events, through roadshows and educational videos, making visits to rural areas and interacting with villagers on the importance of providing holistic care and support to pregnant ladies and their families. Ms Tandon has also reached out to decision- makers in government and UNICEF’s NGO partners to build advocacy and promote dialogue on maternal and neonatal care.
Commenting on the problem of death during pregnancy and childbirth, Ms. Tandon says: “Statistics indicate that women in the world’s least developed countries are 300 times more likely to die during childbirth or due to pregnancy-related complications as compared to the women in the developed countries. Sadly, most of these deaths happen due to lack of knowledge and lack of basic amenities. I feel strongly for this cause and grateful to UNICEF for providing me the right platform to create awareness about the issue. My endeavour will be to make people aware how important it is to take care of a pregnant woman because, if she is healthy, only then the newborn child will be healthy too.”
Ms Tandon is an inspiring role model as an ambassador for maternal health. Not only is she an independent woman and a mother, who made a place for herself in the male-dominated Indian film industry but, in the course of her career, she also addressed several important women’s issues through her leading roles in feminist movies like Satta, Shool and Daman.