Zimbabwean women’s and LGBTI rights activist Martha Tholanah was the winner of the 2015 David Kato Vision & Voice Award, which honors people working for the human rights of sexual minorities worldwide, especially in homophobic societies. The award is named after David Kato, the human rights activist murdered in his home of Kampala, Uganda, in January 2011.
I have been on a long journey to accept myself as an HIV positive African woman. I fight for others to overcome the stigma and discrimination in their lives so that they can find self-love and acceptance too.
Martha Tholanah is Chairperson of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). GALZ is an association founded in 1990 that advocates for social tolerance for sexual minorities and the repeal of homophobic legislation in Zimbabwe. As a trained family therapy counselor qualified in medical rehabilitation, Martha has established and headed health programs for Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and the Network of Zimbabwean Positive Women (NZPW+). Despite the challenges she faces, she remains deeply committed to her efforts and continues to represent GALZ in legally challenging state-sanctioned homophobia and violence. Martha is also a proud feminist fighting to eliminate sexism in Zimbabwe. She works to make women living with HIV – young women and LBT women more visible in a male-dominated political and social landscape