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Our blog provides an international platform to promote women’s political empowerment. Mina's List believes in fostering a sense of solidarity as we support women's increased political representation around the globe. Submit a blog post about you or your organization's projects.

Women’s Leadership & Peace

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by Tanya Henderson, Mina’s List Founder & Executive Director 

Fifteen years ago this week, the United Nations Security Council adopted the groundbreaking Resolution 1325 (SCR 1325) mandating women’s equal role in resolving global conflict and building peaceful societies. Women’s empowered leadership and equal political participation are recognized as essential to achieving long-term peace and development. While some progress has been made to ensure women’s full participation in matters of peace and security, there is still much work to be done! Only 52 out of 196 countries have created National Action Plans (NAPs) to realize Resolution 1325, and those countries with a NAP face huge obstacles in implementation. 

Give now to support women’s leadership in promoting peace! 

Over the past year, women’s rights activists in Afghanistan achieved a momentous victory when government officials approved the first ever Afghan National Action Plan on SCR 1325 to engage women’s full participation in the country’s ongoing peace transition. Recent events have proven that now more than ever, it  is critical for women’s voices to be heard to prevent the Taliban from turning back the clock on women’s rights. Afghan women must be in positions of leadership to determine their country’s peaceful future! 

Give now to support Afghan women’s empowered leadership! 

As you know, Mina’s List is in the middle of its Afghan Pilot Project, which will prepare 15 aspiring women political leaders for Afghanistan’s 2016 parliamentary elections. Because of generous donors like you, Mina’s List was able to fund a Listening Session hosted in June, where Afghan women parliamentarians and women’s rights activists strategized how to overcome the obstacles to women’s political participation in their country. Thank you so much! 

We have raised nearly all the funds needed to implement the upcoming Empowerment Workshops that will build the skills and capacity of the aspiring women leaders. To fully fund the training workshops and two-year mentorship program, we ask that you help us raise $15,000 by the time we get on the plane on Thursday, Dec. 10 (Intl Human Rights Day). 

Give $15 in honor of the 15th anniversary of Resolution 1325
Give $150 to invest in women leaders for Afghanistan’s peaceful future
Give $1500 to sponsor an aspiring woman political leader in our programs

Your support will help Mina’s List create a ripple effect that starts with peace and stability in Afghanistan and extends to the rest of the world.  

Fighting for Empowerment: Under Taliban Rule & Beyond

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by Manizha Baraki, Mina’s List Program Intern

Hello Mina’s List’s blog followers! My name is Manizha Baraki. I am a current MA/Sustainable International Development student at the Heller School of Brandeis University. I am from Afghanistan and I just joined Mina’s List as an intern. The reason I want to do my second year graduate program practicum with Mina’s List is because I truly believe in Mina’s List’s approach to women’s political empowerment.

The recent incidents in Kunduz province made me think about what girls and women went through when the Taliban was ruling Afghanistan 14 years ago. When I was going to school secretly during the Taliban regime, I never imagined that I would even graduate from high school. Look where I am now! Women as decision makers and leaders have played an important role in what I have achieved in my life today. I think my story is the story of every other girl and woman who has managed to continue her education during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and afterwards.

I was in the second grade of school when the Taliban occupied Afghanistan. They banned girls from going to school right away. As a result, I could have remained illiterate for the rest of my life. What helped me stay connected to education was my mom’s continuous encouragement to study with my brothers at home. After two years of the Taliban regime, the hope of going to school started to seem too unrealistic for me and other girls around me. Our light of hope was women who started schools in their homes, secretly. It was not an easy job for them as I recall now. They could have been caught by the Taliban anytime, and recorded cruelty of the Taliban is enough to predict what would have been punishment for these women.

My teachers never showed any fear while they were teaching us. What I clearly remember is one of my teachers saying “if the Taliban finds out about the school and you find the school closed one day, don’t give up.” Fortunately, the Taliban never found out about my secret home-based school. The words of my teacher are still with me and give me courage to fight and not give up when I find barriers in my way.

My story not only illustrates women’s willingness but also their courage to help other women when they need help. As women, my teachers knew what life would look like for an illiterate woman in the society that we lived in. They were concerned and they were doing something about it. illiteracy is the root of many other women’s issues. An illiterate woman is dependent on her male family members and others in Afghanistan. Another consequence of girl’s illiteracy is child marriage, which leads to many other women’s problems. The chances of early marriage are higher among illiterate women.

Since then, I have realized that when women are given higher positions that allow them more authority like political leadership positions, there is higher possibility that these women will advocate for women’s rights. It is easier for women to understand the needs of other women because they have seen and felt what women experience. Parliament is the place where problems are discussed and more importantly laws and policies approved. We need more women to be a part of this process. Currently, 27% of the lower house of parliament in Afghanistan is made up of women, which is not enough to represent the different groups of women all over the country. Women are 51% of the population in Afghanistan. More women are needed in political positions to substantively represent the needs of half the population in the country. 

I am excited to be part of Mina’s List’s efforts to help increase women’s equal and substantive participation in national governments around the world.

Listening Session for the Afghan Pilot Project

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by Sana Johnson, Communications Intern, Mina’s List

Earlier this month, Mina’s List invited eight Afghan women Parliamentarians and six Afghan women’s rights activists (collectively representing each of the major ethnic/religious groups and eleven different regions) to participate in the Listening Session for our Afghan Pilot Project. In collaboration with our civil society partner organizations, Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) and Afghan Women’s Educational Center (AWEC), Mina’s List hosted the Listening Session to gather information on the unique and specific barriers that prevent Afghan women’s equal and substantive political participation in Parliament. The Listening Session was the first step to empowering Afghan women who are committed to advancing a women’s rights agenda as political leaders.

During the two-day session, the participants engaged in thoughtful and honest discussion about women’s participation in Afghan politics. The MPs and civil society representatives displayed a deep commitment to women’s rights and to advancing a women’s rights agenda in Afghanistan. The empowered leaders inspired each other as well as the Mina’s List team with their stories of perseverance, sacrifice, and courage. One of the most exciting developments to come from the Listening Session was the establishment of the Mina’s List Mentorship Program. The MPs expressed overwhelming enthusiasm for the opportunity to serve as mentors to the aspiring women political leaders– and all eight Members of Parliament in attendance agreed to take part in the program! We feel so thankful for the MPs and our partner organizations AWN and AWEC for their contributions to the Listening Session, and for working to make the session a success.

Feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive and reaffirmed the importance of the Mina’s List’s collaborative model. At the end of the first day’s program, Afghan women’s rights activist Mary Akrami, who was one of the first recipients of the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award, said that the Listening Session was the first time she had the opportunity to hear what women parliamentarians need from civil society to fully advance women’s rights through legislative action. Akrami added that after connecting with the women MPs though this program, she now feels they could build a coalition together and work in unity to advance women’s rights. Similarly, the Hon. Shinkai Karokhail noted that the Listening Session was the first time in her tenure that women MPs and civil society activists fully dialogued on how to support each other and unite to achieve their shared goal of advancing women’s equal and substantive political participation in Afghanistan. 

Outcomes from the Listening Session’s strategy session include the following notes:


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Mina’s List is now working hard to implement the next two phases of the Afghan Pilot Project, the Empowerment Workshops and Mentorship Program. Our next step is to take all the information gathered from our in-country partners during the Listening Session and develop a country-specific and culturally relevant curriculum to prepare aspiring women political leaders to run in Afghanistan’s next parliamentary elections!

As we reflect on our first year, we could not be more proud of the progress we have made or more excited for what is to come. Thank you all for your continued support. We hope you are as excited as we are for the future of Mina’s List.

A Word from the Founder

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Welcome to Mina’s List!

My name is Tanya Henderson. I am an international women and human rights lawyer with a professional background in grass-roots advocacy, policy-making and the role of women in peace building and conflict prevention.

Over the last several years, I have had the great privilege of working with women Parliamentarians from around the world. From this experience, I learned how tremendously effective a few courageous women can be when empowered as independent decision-makers in their national governments.

For example, my dear friend and colleague, Ms. Shinkai Karokhail, who is an elected Parliamentarian in the National Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, was the only member of the parliament to oppose a draft Shia Family Law, which included many provisions that would have rolled back women’s rights in Afghanistan -such as child marriage and prohibitions on women leaving the home without permission from a male relative. After Ms. Karokhail reached out to the international media, the President of Afghanistan decided to accept amendments to the draft law. Ms. Karokhail personally introduced over 50 amendments to make the Shia Family Law more just for Afghan women and girls.Ms. Karokhail is a powerful example of what women can do when elected to national governments and have the resources and tools to make independent decisions that advance women’s rights. Other examples include:

  • In Argentina, despite representing only 14 percent of deputies, female parliamentarians introduced no fewer than 78 percent of the bills related to women’s rights.
  • In Pakistan, women in Parliament played a key role in the passage of more than 20 laws in four years for the protection of women and children, and are at the forefront of leading rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by humanitarian crisis or extremist violence.
  • In the United States, roughly 9 percent more federal spending is brought home when there is a woman representing the district in Congress than when the district is represented by a man.
  • In Rwanda, female parliamentarians used a participatory leadership approach to build support for a domestic violence law that provided a model for strengthening other democratic process.

Unfortunately, the barriers to women’s political participation are numerous. Discriminatory laws and practices and inequities in economic and social resources largely limit a women’s option to run for elected office. Status disadvantages such as; absence of a functioning party system or backing by political parties, misogynist climate, predominately illiterate electorate, or lack of relevant networks further hamper women’s ability to run a successful political campaign.

As Rona Tareen, a candidate from Kandahar, Afghanistan reported, “I am under a burqa; people cannot recognize me. Men can go to the mosque and talk in public. Women must talk to individuals. You cannot have that same large gathering.”

So this is why I have started Mina’s List. To raise the profile and capacity of strong women political candidates who are challenging the discriminatory systems that limit women’s equal representation in national government, and who will advance the status of women and girls for now and for future generations.

I hope that you will stay tuned as we further develop our program and website - and will join our efforts to: Empower Women’s Political Participation Globally!

Warm regards,

Tanya

Mina’s List NYC Launch Keynote Speech- Hon. Shinkai Karokhail

Listen as Mina’s List Advisory Board Member and Afghan Parliamentarian Mrs. Shinkai Karokhail talks about what Afghanistan really needs.

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Cambridge, MA 02139
Call + 1 (617) 945-2194