Published:  12:05 AM, 22 October 2021

Rani Yan finalist for USIP

Bangladeshi indigenous peoples' human rights defender and women's rights activist Rani Yan Yan is one of nine finalists for the Women Building Peace Award from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) to be given on October 20. This annual award, inaugurated in 2020, honors women peacebuilders whose substantial and practical contributions to peace are an inspiration and guiding light for future peacebuilders.

Rani Yan Yan is an indigenous peoples' human rights defender and women's rights activist from the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region of Bangladesh. She is also the advisor to the Chakma Circle Chief and the ceremonial queen (Rani) of the Chakma people and the Chakma Circle. Indigenous people have long suffered violence and exploitation in this region, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands. Even after a peace accord was signed in 1997, indigenous communities have limited access to their land and basic needs. Rape of indigenous women by people outside of their communities is common in the CHT, where perpetrators are sometimes treated with impunity.

In this context, Rani Yan Yan has sought to secure the protection and rights of indigenous women and to support their leadership in society.  Despite threats and attacks on her life, Rani Yan Yan collaborates with local, national, and international civil society organizations to promote peace and justice in CHT. Of particular concern to her is the meaningful participation of indigenous peoples in the planning, reform, and implementation of legislation, national policies, and development actions that impact them, including those related to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and climate change actions.  Her belief in democratic processes is reflected in her inclusive and equity-driven approach to strengthen sustainable peace and equality.

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