Bandana Rana, who serves as the immediate past vice-chair of the United Nations Association’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and is currently the chair of the Working Group on Inquires of CEDAW, says she plans to talk about amplifying the voices and the visibility of women through United Nations mechanisms at her keynote speech this Sunday, Nov. 14, at the United Nations Association Dane County chapter’s Annual United Nations Celebration.
“It’s all about getting the local experiences, bringing it to the global level and sharing the ground-level experiences at the global level,” Rana tells Madison365 in an interview from Geneva, Switzerland. “Sometimes, you can have the best global policies but it doesn’t make a difference for the women on the ground. Unless you have experiences on what makes a difference for women on the ground, the best global policies won’t work.”
Rana, who started her lifelong work at the grassroots level working with victims of violence, is now a key member of the women’s movement of Nepal. She is the first Nepali national serving on UN’s CEDAW where she brings more than three decades of experiences working in the field of gender equality and women’s rights.
CEDAW is the body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
“The CEDAW committee has 23 members and they are elected independent experts. The election takes place in New York,” Rana says. “In my role as chair of the committee, we assess the ongoing inquiries and any new submissions that come up and we make decisions based upon review and see if we need more information from the state party. When we assess the information, we can initiate a counter visit at a certain point as part of the inquiry.”
Sunday’s keynote for the United Nations Association Dane County chapter, she says, is tentatively titled “Local to Global and Global to Local: Shaping the Future of Women.”
“I will be talking about my own experience having grown up in the Nepali society how even when competitively I had much more opportunity than many Nepali girls … even then, how difficult it was for me to find my own voice and identity,” she says. “It wasn’t until the age of 25 when I found my voice and identity and my potential.
“I will share my experience about why I chose to work in the area of violence against women and some of my personal experiences as a media practitioner,” adds Rana, who has held many key positions in Nepal and internationally. “I was a broadcast journalist in a male-dominated profession and will share my experiences there and how I felt about women being marginalized. Many women, in their entire lifetime, do not find their voice or find their visibility. So all of their potential dies and that’s a huge loss.”
Rana was a television journalist with Nepal Television for two decades and co-founded and led Forum of Women in Media (Sancharika Samuha) in Nepal. She also led critical media and participatory communication programs to promote gender equality. Rana has several years of experience in leading and moderating national and international level conferences, meetings and events attended by the highest level of state authorities.
“When I was making my documentary, I came across women who were subject of domestic violence and domestic violence seemed to be the key issue,” Rana remembers. “So I will talk a little about how that led me to find my niche and since then I have become a lifetime passion advocate for women’s equality and women’s rights. So I will share those experiences.”
Rana has founded and led national, regional and global networks as well as women’s shelters to work and advocate for the full development and advancement of women addressing their political, economic, social, cultural and civil rights. According to her biography, she has extensive experience in leading national, regional and global advocacy, research and public outreach programs for policy reforms linking UN instruments particularly CEDAW, ICPD, BPFA, UNSCR 1325 and SDGs to local, national and regional initiatives.
“My big area is advocating for legislative changes and policy changes. For that, I feel that one can not act individually. You have to have a collective movement,” she says. “I feel like we need to have a collective movement with a UN mandate, the UN commitment. If we localize those human instruments, your advocacy can be stronger. You can be heard even more effectively.
“So I will share hands-on experiences of how changes have come about through the use of UN instruments and I will share a little bit about my CEDAW work: How I got into CEDAW and why I got into CEDAW and how we have used the CEDAW mandate to bring about numerous legislation regarding gender equality.”
At the event on Sunday, the United Nations Association Dane County chapter will also be honoring its 2021 Global Citizen Award Recipient, the 100 Black Men of Madison. Dr. Floyd Rose will be accepting the award on the organization’s behalf.
To register for the annual UN Day Celebration Sunday, Nov. 14, click here.