Indian NGO gets international award for battling AIDS

August 8th, 2008 - 4:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Mexico City, Aug 8 (IANS) A Mumbai-based NGO working for the rights of sex workers was among the five community organisations from India, Ghana, Iran, Malawi and Mexico that received the Red Ribbon Awards for their role in battling HIV/AIDS. The Mumbai-based NGO Sanghamitra, a women’s collective, won the award at the 17th International Conference on Aids in Mexico City for lobbying for universal condom usage by sex workers and their work with the police to protect legal rights as well as with health clinics to improve health services.

Of the more than 550 organisations from 147 countries that were nominated, 25 were awarded $5,000. Three of these organisations were from India. Out of the 25 awardees, five winners received $20,000 in recognition of their exceptional response to HIV at the local level.

“These are extraordinary organizations helping to meet the needs of their own communities in often very difficult circumstances,” said Rebecca Grynspan, director of the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Latin America and Caribbean bureau.

“In doing so, they have shown extraordinary creativity, courage and leadership in responding to the epidemic and achieving tangible results with limited resources,” she was quoted as saying in a statement issued by UNDP in New Delhi.

“All the Red Ribbon participants at this conference are winners,” said As Sy, UNAIDS director of partnerships and external relations.

“We hope that the knowledge and resources gained from AIDS 2008 will help inspire you in your own communities in taking your work to the next level. I know all of us have learned from you and your experiences. This knowledge is truly what the Red Ribbon Awards are about,” As Sy said.

Apart from Sanghamitra, the other organisations awarded were Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights in Ghana, Hamyaran Mosbat - The Mashhad Positive Club in Iran, Consol Homes in Malawi and Fortaleciendo la Diversidad in Mexico.

It is the second time the awards were being presented. The first was at the 2006 International AIDS Conference in Toronto.

This year the final jury included Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway; Edwin Cameron, a South African Supreme Court of Appeals Judge and the first senior South African official to publicly state that he was living with HIV; Elizabeth Mataka, the UN secretary general’s special envoy for HIV and AIDS in Africa; and Mary Robinson, the first woman president of Ireland and former UN high commissioner for human rights.

The Red Ribbon Award Secretariat is hosted by the UNDP and supported by the 17th International AIDS Conference, the Canadian International Development Agency, Irish Aid and the Norwegian foreign affairs ministry.

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