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Bandana Rana at annual MEK rally in Ashraf 3, Albania

On Saturday 2019, a large crowd gathered in Ashraf 3, Albania, home to Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), to hold the annual Free Iran rally of the Iranian resistance. The event was the fourth installment in a series of events held at Ashraf 3. Bandana Rana Vice Chair of UN CEDAW Committee gave a speech in this gathering.

Bandana Rana: Such a joy, pride, and honor to be standing before this powerful collective voice against resistance. I come from a small country in Asia, Nepal, which is more known for its highest mountain, Mount Everest, and the birthplace of Buddha, the promotor of peace and human rights. I don’t boast of a very significant career or position, but for the last 33 years, I have been working to address all forms of violence against women, discrimination, and promoting gender equality. I started from the communities in Nepal, but my journey led me to expand my advocacy nationally, regionally, and many times globally. My journey also took me to the corridors of the United Nations advocating for global policies that impact at the national level.

And I recall, 20 years ago, participating in a panel discussion on gender equality and women’s rights and the moderator at the end of the conversation said he would ask one question and you would have to answer one sentence within ten seconds. No time to think. And the question was, ten years from now what change would you like to see? This was 20 years ago. And the answer that had to come in ten seconds, I said, “I want to see every house rejoice at the birth of a girl.”

Bandana Rana  also mentioned: Today, today I see a leader, Maryam Rajavi She earns so much of joy, respect, warmth, love that you give to her. And I feel so proud to be a woman, to see this leadership. I think the resilience, the power, the solidarity, of the Iranian women are inspirational to other women in the world as well.

Bandana Rana added: My activism today has taken me to a global platform where I am in the United Nations convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, CEDAW as it is more known of. It’s a bill of rights, it includes women’s holistic rights. But when I looked at Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point agenda, I could see so much of commonalities in what the CEDAW mandates. Fundamental freedom of women, equality before the law, end of all discrimination, sexual subjugation, equality in family, and equality in all spheres political, economic, and social.

Bandana Rana ended her speech saying: In the CEDAW we continue to engage with member states to bring about that fundamental freedom of women. I work on women peace and security, promoting women’s participation in peace. And we all know there cannot be peace without women. And where a movement like yours is led by a woman, peace is certainly assured sooner or later. My solidarity to all of you. Thank you.

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