Kolkata-Based Organisation Wins 5th Martha Farrell Award (2021)

 Kolkata:  Kolkata-based Social organisation, Sappho for Equality has been honoured with the 5th Martha Farrell Foundation Award (2021) for their continued efforts towards the LBT community in the Eastern parts of India. The non-profit organisation has won the award in the “Special Jury Award (Organisation) '' category and was also conferred a cash prize of INR 1,00,000.

The award ceremony was hosted by Martha Farrell Foundation, Participatory Research in Asia, and Rural Development Trust, on 20th November 2021 in New Delhi. Starting in 1999, Sappho began as an emotional support group and a collective for Lesbian women. It is the oldest organization in the Eastern part of India that works with and for the gender-sexually marginalized population who identify as Lesbian, Bisexual women, and transmasculine persons (LBT). Towards ensuring gender equality and supporting peers in the LBT community, Sappho for Equality provides peer counselling, runs a helpline for crisis interventions, provides mental health counselling services to LBT individuals and their families.


“It was in June of 1999 that eastern India's first self-support group for lesbian bisexual women and trans persons (Female to male)  started. Our vision is to create a society where the rights and lives of gender sexual minorities with intersecting marginalizations will be respected and ensured.

We want to move alongside identity-based politics and arrive at the politics of standpoint.

We thank Martha Farrell Award for their recognition as it has strengthened our resolve to create a gender-just society as per Martha's vision.” - said Sappho For Equality’s spokesperson


Sappho for Equality also saw a need to start a ‘Crisis Intervention Centre’ (a short stay shelter home) during the COVID-19 lockdown when trans persons and lesbians living with their natal families were experiencing a lot of domestic violence. In addition to this, Sappho has also started a livelihood generation project for LBT persons, training and capacity persons to be members of the workforce. The organization’s work also includes knowledge and literature generation on issues facing the LBT community— issues that are often side-lined from mainstream knowledge discourses.


Martha Farrell awards have been instituted in 2016, to honour the memory of Dr Martha Farrell, a prominent activist for gender equality and women’s empowerment, who was killed in Kabul (Afghanistan) in a terrorist attack in 2015, while leading a gender training workshop for the Aga Khan Foundation. The Martha Farrell Award for Excellence in Women’s Empowerment takes forward her ideals and principles. In 2020, the special jury award in the organisational category was won by Association for Social and Human Awareness, Jharkhand. A total of 120 nominations were received this year, which were carefully reviewed for merit by a six-member jury comprising eminent jurists, women’s rights proponents, filmmakers, and social activists.

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