Shyamala Natarajan – India

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

When Shyamala Natarajan (born 1963) started working on HIV/AIDS and related issues 16 years ago, the stigma surrounding the disease was appalling. She had to fight opposition from her family to set up the South India AIDS Action Program SIAAP. Through her work, Shyamala has been reaching out to sex workers, sexual minorities, such as men having sex with men MSM and eunuchs. She is involved in building capacities of community-based organizations to take up the issue of HIV/AIDS and campaigning on HIV prevention. Shyamala is also actively involved with organizing sex workers, and believes strongly in community-based (as opposed to forced governmental) rehabilitation. Over the years, she has created space to make discussions on HIV/AIDS possible … (1000peacewomen 1/2).

Over the years, Shyamala has created space to make discussions on HIV/Aids possible, and brought about a whole slew of government policy changes.


Sorry, no photo found for Shyamala Natarajan, India.

She works for the South India Aids Action Program SIAAP.

… The conference inauguration, with speakers from Brazil, Africa and Australia, provided a business-like start and then Shyamala Natarajan, head of the South India Aids Programme, got to her feet. She started to complain about the shortage of free condoms. This sparked further protests from students who began shouting slogans demanding regular free condom distribution. They circulated a press release to all the delegates saying that condom distribution had been cut so much that some HIV prevention work in Tamil Nadu had been halted altogether. It was estimated that the state needed between three and five million condoms a month while only 500,000 had been offered to HIV projects. Now, they claimed, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was asking projects to charge people for the condoms they were given … (full text).

… In her inaugural address, Ms. Shyamala Natarajan, programme director, South India AIDS Action Programme, departed from the usual. List the qualities that you find in your best friend, she asked them. Respect for one another, honesty and support were some of the answers the children gave. Look for these in a relationship too later in life, she said, and stay away from trouble … (full text).

1000peacewomen 1/2: Lobbying with the government on this issue, she has brought about many changes in government policy. For example:

  • In 1990, the Government of Tamil Nadu (GoTN) framed a policy against detention of persons testing HIV+; in 1992, the Government of India (GoI) also adopted this policy.
  • In 1994, the health and family welfare department, GoI, adopted a policy to improve condom quality.
  • In 1996, the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) adopted a policy against mandatory testing for HIV.
  • In 1995, the GoTN adopted a policy to include HIV+ persons in decision-making. Later, the NACO also accepted this principle.
  • In 1996, the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Unions adopted a policy to support the rights of women in sex work.
  • In 2000, the NACO adopted a policy to provide counseling services for reproductive health in government hospitals.
  • In 2003, the NACO adopted a policy to train and place counselors drawn from communities of people marginalized on the basis of sexuality, gender, and HIV.

Shyamala’s work has influenced and inspired many individuals and organizations. Usha, formerly a sex worker, is a case in point: after her association with Shyamala and SIAAP, Usha started WATT, an organization that works on the same issues. (on 1000peacewomen).

… The names of Shyamala Natarajan, Saraswathi and Krishna Jagannathan were announced by the NGO Wednesday. The three women figure in a list of 1,000 women from 150 countries, whose names have been submitted to the Nobel Prize Committee. Natarajan is a journalist in her late 40s and is the founder director of South India AIDS Action. She has been working with HIV- positive and AIDS-affected people for more than a decade. Saraswathi, hailing from Chennai, works with campaigns to eliminate caste discriminations. Jagannathan is an environmentalist and works for women’s issues. She belongs to Nagapattinam district, which was hit badly by the December tsunami disaster … (full text).

Many persons with the same name exist in the web, not being our peacewomen.


The tale of two women, March 24, 2007;

Introduction – Milestones in the Understanding of HIV/AIDS Mother-to-Child Transmission in India, by Patrice Cohen, GRIS, University of Rouen, France, French Institute of Pondicherry, 9 pdf pages;

The Google download book: Emancipation and empowerment of women, By V. Mohini Giri, 1998, 354 pages.

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