Thursday, March 6, 2014

Anjali Gopalan, Indian Human Rights Activist

Anjali Gopalan  (Tamil: அஞ்சலி கோபாலன்) (b. September 1, 1957) is an Indian Human Rights activist and the founder and executive 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. Anjali began working on issues related to HIV/AIDS and marginalized communities in the United States. In 2012, Time magazine named Gopalan on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Anjali Gopalan was born in 1957 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Her father Wing Commander Dr. K. R. Gopalan was an officer in the Indian Air Force and her Sikh mother a homemaker. Anjali did her schooling in La Martiniere Lucknow. She studied in both India and the US, and her degree in political science, a postgraduate diploma in journalism, and a Masters in international development.

Anjali 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 LGBT and women and children who live with HIV. Providing direct services for HIV/AIDS issues, circumstances led Anjali to live and care for HIV affected undocumented migrant laborers and schoolchildren, especially within South Asian communities.

Upon Anjali's return to India, she established Delhi’s first HIV clinic in 1994 and the Naz Foundation (India) Trust, an HIV/AIDS service organization that concentrates on prevention and care. The foundation currently works on issues of sexuality rights.

In 2000, Anjali opened the country’s first holistic home cares for orphaned vulnerable HIV+ children and women. She trains health professionals and care-givers to treat HIV+ children, and recognizes that existing facilities need to expand their scope to include them. She has designed a system that provides multi-faceted care to infected children, both in the home and in foster care.

Anjali's  main concern still remains in providing quality care to those living with the HIV infection, which she has done through founding and managing a care home for HIV-positive children and women.

In 2001, Anjali was awarded the Commonwealth Award for her work with 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 those whose lives have none.

In March 2007, Anjali was honored as a Woman Achiever by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, along with nine other awardees. 

On July 29, 2012, Anjali Gopalan inaugurated the Alan Turing Rainbow festival and flag.   The festival parade was Asia's first Genderqueer pride parade and was the first Gay pride parade attended by Anjali.

On October 25, 2013 Anjali was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur ("Knight in the order of the Legion of Honor") which is the highest award presented by France. Anjali Gopalan became the first Tamil woman awarded with the "Legion of Honour".

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