Why I became a Gender Activist

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"I was not a born activist" tells Bandana Rana, President of Saathi NGO. 


I was not a born activist as most claim to be nor did I have the desire to be one from early childhood. Then what was it that made me pursue this path? As I reflect upon this following are some instances that come to my mind.

When I started working for Nepal Television in 1986, in the initial years I was happy doing the work assigned to me by my male superiors. But in 1988 when I went overseas for training I got exposed to a different culture – a culture which respected the views of women, a culture which encouraged women to make decisions and recognise your own potential. But when I returned, trying to apply what I had learnt abroad posed a great challenge. Normally a quiet person I was compelled to show my fangs and teeth in order to survive in an environment which did not view women's dominance and leadership favourably. I vowed to work towards changing this for a conducive environment where women could express their views without fear, be respected and treated equally.

The male predominance was also reflected in the media I worked in. Women's news and issues were never a priority and with very few women in decision making positions women's views and voices were rarely heard. However, it was in 1991 when I worked in a documentary project and visited several remote districts of Nepal that I actually got to know the severity of the different forms of violence that women face. Since then I pledged to work for the empowerment of women and be the voice of the voiceless. My education and access to policy makers at the central level helped me to be the catalyst to bring the voices and concerns of the communities to influence policies and programs for a more gender equal society.

After my experience and the understanding of the depth of violence and discrimination that women face through series of interaction with rural women's groups I was seeking for a collective venture to break the silence in regard to violence against women. It was then in 1992 that eight of us friends who shared common concerns and an urge to do something to address the social inequality and discrimination that women face got together and founded Saathi. We decided to first address the violence faced by women in the domestic sphere as we felt that unless and until women feel safe and secure inside their own houses there cannot be a gender equal society. However, the initial years of Saathi's inception were a huge struggle as domestic violence was a taboo topic and considered a very private affair by both the state and the society. We were convinced though that we were treading on the right path and are proud today of our consistent service to women survivors of violence, our advocacy for policy changes and our effort in saving lives, creating opportunities and promoting peace.

Today, as I look back on the more than two and a half decade of my activism for women's rights and equality I feel I couldn't have chosen any better career. It's not just a career – it's my passion, my commitment and my life and I feel truly gratified for what I am and what I do.

Bandana Rana

Executive President of Saathi Organization


Picture of Bandana Rana taken at the lauching ceremony of UN Women in New York on February 24, 2011.
To know more about Saathi : http://www.saathi.org.np


Ready, Willing and Able

« Youth is not a troublemaker. Youth is a change maker. »
says Juju Kaji, a Nepali social worker.
2012. At one difficult time of national history, Nepali people face new challenges every day.
And still, youth is in the game