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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.

International Women’s Day


by Emily Kaplan, Mina’s List Communications Intern

Happy International Women’s Day Mina’s List followers! The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #PledgeForParity. Throughout the world, women contribute to the political, social, economic, and cultural advancement of humanity. But progress toward achieving equal and substantive representation for women in these arenas has slowed to a near glacial pace. In 2014, the World Economic Forum estimated gender parity would not be achieved until the end of the century, in 2095. Just last year, that estimate was reevaluated. Current estimations show that it will take until 2133 to close the gender gap, nearly 120 years from now. To us at Mina’s List, that is unacceptable! 

Mina’s List is not alone in this view. The United Nations and UN Women are calling on national government’s to change the course and close the gender gap through their own International Women’s Day theme of “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” The year 2030 is the deadline for the implementation of the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which focus on achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. 

Reflecting on how to accelerate the 2030 agenda, UN Women’s Step It Up initiative actively builds momentum for the effective implementation of the new SDGs by encouraging countries to make stronger commitments to gender equality, women’s empowerment, and women’s human rights. The Step It Up initiative specifically calls on governments to make national commitments to close the gap in gender equality by 2030. More than 90 UN Member states have made concrete commitments “to crack some of the fundamental barriers to achievement of gender equality in their countries,” according to UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

At Mina’s List, we are hopeful these concrete commitments will become concrete actions. We fully believe in the power of women leaders, especially the Afghan women who so recently took part in the Empowerment Workshops for Mina’s List’s Afghan Pilot Project. 

Though we believe in these women and the work they do, we know closing the gap in gender equality will not be accomplished without serious commitments from national and local government, current and future women leaders, and male allies worldwide. Mina’s List is hopeful UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s call to action today will be heeded: “Let us devote solid funding, courageous advocacy and unbending political will to achieving gender equality around the world. There is no greater investment in our common future.”

30 Women Who Could Change Afghanistan

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by Devin Cowick, Mina’s List Program Manager

Mina’s List’s 5-day Empowerment Workshops for its Afghan Pilot Project were a tremendous success. Hosted in Delhi, India to ensure participant safety, the workshops helped prepare 15 aspiring women candidates who commit to promoting women’s rights as elected leaders to run in Afghanistan’s upcoming parliamentary elections. Perhaps the greatest indication of success is the fact that the program is already undergoing replication for an additional 15 aspiring candidates from underrepresented provinces. 

You can support the training of these 15 aspiring women candidates! Give now

“We have built a network here; the aspiring women candidates, women parliamentarians, and women activists. I hope these workshops continue in the future. First, because the only way to solve the many problems we have is to gather and discuss them. This way we can come to collective solutions to problems. Second, we seriously need women’s self-driven activism all over the world, and in particular in Afghanistan.” 

-Halima Askari, aspiring candidate for Wardak province

The fifteen participants selected by Mina’s List partners, Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) and Afghan Women’s Educational Center (AWEC), came from ten different provinces across Afghanistan. The aspiring women candidates were so committed to the program that they overcame numerous obstacles to attend the workshops, including airport delays due to attacks by the Taliban. In addition to the 15 aspiring women candidates, participants included 10 women parliamentarians (from both Upper and Lower houses), 5 women’s rights activists, and several Afghan government representatives. By including a variety of stakeholders, the program began building a network of in-country support for the aspiring candidates. 

Empowerment Workshops Goals: 

1) Build the skills, capacity, and confidence of 15 aspiring women political leaders in Afghanistan who are committed to advancing the human rights of women and girls. 
2) Ensure that at least 50% of the aspiring women leaders who attend the Empowerment Workshops choose to run for political office in Afghanistan by the next election cycle. 
3) Strengthen relationships and increase accountability between Afghan women’s rights organizations and their women political leaders. 

The workshops were divided into six major themes and collectively covered the training topics that were identified in the Dubai Listening Session as essential for preparing Afghan women candidates to run for political office and advance a women’s rights agenda once elected. The six parts of the training curriculum were: (1) Campaign Process; (2) Political Capacity and Campaign Skills; (3) Women’s Rights Agenda; (4) Gender, Women, and Politics; (5) Women’s Substantive Representation in Parliament; and (6) Action and Planning. Mina’s List Founder/Executive Director and Mina’s List Curriculum Consultants facilitated the 5-day program while civil society leaders, parliamentarian mentors, and Afghan government representatives presented prepared remarks and training materials based on their areas of expertise. 

“This is a unique opportunity for the next generation of female politicians to go with their eyes open and know what they are going to be about, and how they can influence the women’s agenda and make it a priority as a collective within the parliament.” 

-Zulaikha Rafiq, AWEC Director 

Based on assessment feedback, the workshops were hugely effective in increasing participant skills, capacity, and confidence related to running for political office, being an effective leader in parliament, and promoting women’s rights in the political sphere. For instance, twice as many participants felt very confident and knowledgeable in terms of political capacity and campaign skills by the end of the program. Even the most experienced parliamentarian mentors felt that they had learned something new, finding the workshops incredibly valuable for both current parliamentarians and aspiring candidates. The Hon. Shinkai Karokhail, Member of the Afghan Parliament, shared: “It was a really good opportunity for those women who want to come to the parliament for the first time. Believe me, 10 years back when I went to parliament I didn’t have a single person to advise me.”

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Give now to support the tireless efforts of these bold women fighting for their own rights and the rights of all women of Afghanistan! 

Additionally, participant responses to open-ended program evaluation questions suggest that a strong foundation was built to achieve the program goal of strengthening relationships and increasing accountability between women’s rights organizations and women political leaders. Mahboba Sadat, aspiring candidate for Balkh province stated: “These workshops were very helpful. First, it created a network among women in different provinces. Second, it gave us the chance to learn from the experiences of current parliamentarians. We learned about the importance of coalition building and we will benefit more if we build coalitions among women to support each other.” Similarly, Hon. Raihana Azad, Afghan Member of Parliament, explained “I am in this group because we want to change the lives of the women of Afghanistan and we cannot do it by ourselves. We can assist one another so that we can maximize the opportunities the women of Afghanistan have, so that we will be able to bring real democracy to Afghanistan.”

Because of the great success of the recent Empowerment Workshops, Mina’s List partners are already working on replicating the program. AWN and AWEC put out another ‘call for applications’ for women candidates from provinces that were not represented at the program in India, and have already received 33 new applications from sixteen different provinces. AWN and AWEC will host a second round of Mina’s List Empowerment Workshops for an additional 15 aspiring women candidates in the Spring of 2016. 

In anticipation of Afghanistan’s 2016 parliamentary elections, help Mina’s List and its Afghan partners ensure women’s rights are part of the Afghan political agenda by supporting the 30 aspiring candidates that have committed to promoting women’s rights as elected leaders. Please give now

Afghan Pilot Empowerment Workshops


by Emily Kaplan, Mina’s List Communications Intern

Today, Mina’s List embarks upon the next stage of our Afghan Pilot Project– we are getting on a plane to host Empowerment Training Workshops that will prepare 15 aspiring women political leaders to run for office in Afghanistan’s next election! With the help of current women parliamentarians who will serve as mentors to the aspiring candidates, and with the support of women’s rights activists, Afghan government officials, and UN women representatives, we are taking a major step toward achieving serious change.

While we’re doing this exciting work, our normal communications may be interrupted. We’ll do our best to keep up with our normal reflections on the state of women in politics, and though we’ll aim to keep you all updated on the progress of the Empowerment Workshops, we’ll be quite busy!

As we’re off training these aspiring women leaders, support our exciting work and support women’s political empowerment! 

Give to Mina’s List

#GivingTuesday

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by Emily Kaplan, Mina’s List Communications Intern

In one week, Mina’s List will embark upon the next stage of our Afghan Pilot Project– we’re traveling to New Delhi to host Empowerment Training Workshops that will prepare 15 aspiring women political leaders to run for office in Afghanistan’s next election! With the help of current women parliamentarians who will serve as mentors to the aspiring candidates, and with the support of women’s rights activists, Afghan government officials, and UN women representatives, we are taking a major step toward achieving serious change. 

Support our work

We are so excited to see the effort of our first year pay off! It’s been hard work, but from our website launch to finishing in the top 25 of 90 in the Women’s Startup Challenge to an amazing interview in the Huffington Post, we’ve accomplished so much

On #GivingTuesday, it’s hard to pick just one cause or organization to give to. Maybe you are passionate about ending child marriage or eliminating human trafficking. Perhaps you are committed to addressing poverty, climate change, or violent conflict. There are so many worthy initiatives out there. When you support Mina’s List you can have an impact on all of these issues and more…by empowering women as political leaders. 

Research shows that when there are more women in government, more laws are passed to promote the rights of women and girls. When women are included at all levels of decision-making, countries experience higher standards of living, including positive developments in education, infrastructure and health, as well as tangible gains for democratic governance, such as decreased corruption, greater cooperation across party and ethnic lines, and more sustainable peace. 

So don’t worry about choosing one issue over another. Your donation to Mina’s List will have a ripple effect on every level of society. It’s time to empower women decision-makers in countries around the world! 

Give to Mina’s List 

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