Inspiring Woman Of The Week

Posted: December 15, 2013

Anjali Gopalan, an Indian Human Rights and Animal Rights activist, founder and executive is Director of the Naz Foundation (India) Trust, an NGO dedicated to the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India mainly focused on women and children.

By Vyshali R. Mallya

Anjali began working on issues related to HIV/AIDS and marginalized communities in the United States. In 2012, Time  placed her on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Anjali has worked for nearly a decade with community based organizations in New York where she worked for migrants from South-East Asia who lacked valid documents. She later started the Naz Foundation that changed the lives of many  who live with HIV including women, children and people from the LGBT community. The Foundation’s PIL in 2001 against Section 377 that criminalises homosexuality in India, is considered a major milestone in the fight for equal rights for the LGBT community here.

In 2001, Anjali was awarded the Commonwealth Award for her work with the marginalized communities. The Chennai based Manava Seva Dharma Samvardhani, presented her the Sadguru Gnanananda Award in 2003, for her work in supporting those living with HIV/AIDS.

In 2005, she was nominated and short-listed for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work to bring harmony to others’ lives.

In 2007, the Indian Ministry of Women and Child Development honoured her as one of 10 women who have made outstanding contributions.Anjali Gopalan founded this organization in the early 1990s because she discovered that there was a lack of governmental efforts in solving the HIV/AIDS problem. Naz India uses a holistic rights-based approach to fight HIV, focusing on prevention and treatment. Their primary recipients are marginalized HIV-infected populations. They provide quality care and support to HIV patients and address unbiased factual information and prevalence of HIV and in India.

In 29 July 2012, she inaugurated the Alan Turing Rainbow festival and flagged off  Asia’s first Genderqueer pride parade.  In 25 October 2013 Anjali was awarded Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur `Knight in the order of the legions of Honor’ which is the highest award given by France.

Why we find her inspiring:

– Extending the foundation’s training to intermediary organizations who implement HIV related measures and programs.

– For challenging the laws and norms that marginalize women and sexual minorities.

– For her lifelong commitment to this work

– For her organization’s sensitive and mature approach that has helped many marginalized groups create a reference area and a space for themselves in the mainstream.

Pic credit: Still from this youtube interview with Anjali Gopalan

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