Sharmila Tagore is one of the well-known and admired actress of Indian film industry. Having started her career way back in 1957, she has worked in more than 100 hindi and bengali films. She has won National Award thrice for her films.
But acting is not her only passion. She has been passionately and actively involved in social work in the country as well as across the border. For her work in the film industry as well as for the society, she has been awarded with one of the most prestigious awards of the country, the Padma Bhushan Awarded, in the year 2013. The same year she was also awarded with the honour of Delhi Women of the Decade Achievers Award at the ASSOCHAM Ladies League.
Ms. Tagore was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF India in 2005. Over the last one decade she has helped in spreading the awareness about HIV/AIDS with key focus on the disease’s impact on children. HIV/AIDS affects not only adults but children too.
Ms. Tagore has done field visits, worked on mass media campaigns, spoken to policymakers to make a difference to this cause. She also was a part of a mass media campaign developed by UNICEF in collaboration with NACO for Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) of HIV.
Commenting on the issue of AIDS among children, Ms. Tagore says, “HIV and AIDS changes the very meaning of childhood for many children and not in a good way. It takes away their basic human rights of care, love and affection of their parents. They also have to suffer social isolation, have the agony of being orphaned and abandoned, denied services and education. We need to continuously fight against the stigma and discrimination that this disease carries with it. Victory over not just the disease, but its impact on families, and communities requires teamwork and leadership”.
Ms. Tagore has been chosen as the ambassador for this issue, based on her compassion, her involvement in global issues, her deep commitment to helping children, and her popularity across India.
The biggest challenge in battling with AIDS specially in case of parent to child transmission is extremely low awareness of this mode of transmission of this disease. Thus, there is a great need to inform people of this and the prevention steps and facilities that are available. Ms. Tagore is the perfect voice for this due to her popularity as well as commitment to social causes.
With our sustained efforts and Ms. Tagore’s continuous support, we have succeeded in creating significant awareness about AIDS pertaining to children and there has been a decrease in the number of children affected.
Though, there is a lot to be done on this and Ms. Tagore’s presence and support ensures the attention of key stakeholders and helps in taking the message to the hinterlands of the country, where people often don’t have access to the right information which can save so many children from getting affected by this fatal disease.