Martha Tholanah, winner of 2015 David Kato Vision and Voice Award, is guest speaker at the ARASA Annual HIV, TB and Human Rights Award Dinner

Posted by Mutaleni on April 13, 2015

We are extremely honoured that Martha Tholanah, the Chairperson of the ARASA partner organisation, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), Coordinator of the International Community of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (ICW-Zimbabwe) and the winner of the 2015 David Kato Vision and Voice Award has agreed to be the guest speaker at the 2015 ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights Award Dinner on 16 April in Johannesburg.

Martha has faced challenges during her activism while advocating for and supporting marginalised communities. In August 2013, she was arrested following a police raid and search of the GALZ offices in Harare and charged with contravening Section 6(1) (3) of the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act. The State alleged that Tholanah, knowing that GALZ was not registered, “unlawfully took part in the management of the organisation by gathering its members and continued to carry out activities while engaging in gays and lesbians activities” in contravention of the PVO Act. In February 2014, the Magistrate found that GALZ was not obliged to be registered in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisation Act and acquitted Tholanah.

The ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights award is presented annually during the Annual Partnership Forum to an ARASA partner who has carried out innovative human rights work on HIV and TB in southern and east Africa. The award was established in 2007 to recognise and support partners by paying tribute to the many organisation across the region that are implementing ground-breaking work, often in challenging political climates.

Through this long standing tradition, the ARASA partnership honours the efforts of HIV, TB and human rights organisations and recognises their contribution to the continued growth of a human rights movement in southern and east Africa. The award is accompanied by a grant of USD$ 10, 000 to further the work of the award winner in promoting rights-based interventions on HIV and TB. The award ceremony will take during the gala dinner at the conclusion of the ARASA Annual Partnership Forum.

The Annual Partnership Forum is the only time during the year when all 89 ARASA partners from 18 countries in Southern and East Africa come together to share their work over the previous year. The Forum provides an opportunity to for partners to network, learn from each other and share good practices in removing discriminatory laws and practises, which hinder access to HIV and TB prevention and treatment services. The Forum also provides the ARASA partnership with the opportunity to agree on the priority HIV, TB and human rights issues affecting us in the region and to strategise and guide ARASA’s work in 2015.

Martha Tholanah has shown personal courage, commitment and strategic leadership in advocating for the right to health for all in the region and we are extremely honoured to have her as our guest speaker at the awards ceremony.

We welcome you to join us on Facebook and Twitter during the Annual Partnership Forum.  We will be making regular updates on reflections and take away messages throughout the meeting using the hashtag #APFARASA2015.