Patron, Malaysian AIDS Foundation
Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir is a prominent activist and AIDS advocacy worker who is also a fearless voice for women’s rights, gender equality, religious freedom and justice
Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir is a socio-political activist and writer known for being outspoken on issues like gender inequality, religious fanaticism and human rights. She is known for her advocacy work for HIV/AIDS, serving as the president of the Malaysian AIDS Council from 1993-2005, and as a member of numerous regional and international HIV/AIDS committees.
Also a passionate advocate for Muslim women’s rights, Mahathir was previously a board member of women’s-rights group the Sisters in Islam, and continues to champion the organisation’s cause for justice and gender equality through fund-raising. She is a regular writer who has been sharing her musings in The Star newspaper for more than 20 years; her think pieces have been compiled into three books, In Liberal Doses, Telling It Straight and Dancing on Thin Ice.
A fourth book, 50 Days: Rantings by MM, is based on her blog and gives an account of Mahathir’s experience as her father went through his second bypass. In 2021, the release of her latest book, The Apple and the Tree, reveals more about her experiences as the daughter of the former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad. She was named the UN Person of the Year by the United Nations in Malaysia in 2010, and in 2011 was also one of only two Malaysian women named in the 100 Most Inspiring People Delivering for Girls and Women, by WomenDeliver.org, in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
Outside of tackling current issues, Mahathir is the founder of Zafigo.com, a website dedicated to women travellers, inspired by her mission to encourage women to travel the world.
Marina Mahathir is married to Indonesian photographer Tara Sosrowardoyo, and including one daughter from her previous marriage, has four children.
"The real power is in the people’s hands."
Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur—Government of France
UN Person of the Year—United Nations, Malaysia