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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.

Listening Session for the Afghan Pilot Project


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:


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.

We Don’t Need Another Sarah Palin


by Sana Johnson, Communications Intern, Mina’s List

Around the world, women continue to face obstacles that inhibit their equal participation in the social, economic, and political spheres. Increasing the rates of female political participation is crucial to achieving gender parity, but breaking the glass ceiling requires a twofold solution. In addition to women’s equal (50%) representation in national government, we need women political leaders who are willing and able to address the issues that are most relevant to women. This is why Mina’s List calls for women’s equal and substantive political representation. We need empowered women in national governments. We don’t need another Sarah Palin. 

For a woman’s political participation to be substantive, she must advocate for policies that attempt to close the opportunity gaps between men and women. We believe that by working with in-country women’s rights organizations and current female legislators, ML can provide aspiring women political leaders the tools necessary to effectively participate in legislative positions. This capacity-building is what ML means by empowerment, and is the key to securing equal rights for women.

While research has shown that women’s political participation can raise the standard of living for all, we need our leaders to address the specific areas that most impact women. Issues such as poverty, illiteracy, disappearing social safety nets, and lack of access to clean water require the substantive representation of women political leaders to address them in a meaningful way. The areas of peace-building and conflict resolution also require legislation that supports women in particular. It has become general knowledge that war disproportionately affects women. The use of rape, sexual slavery, and forced pregnancy as war tactics has grown tremendously. To improve the status of women, female political leaders must have the determination and capacity to advocate for women in these areas. The presence of more women at the table does not necessarily beget change, however the participation of more empowered female decision-makers does.

Evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of women’s substantive political participation is overwhelming. For example, figures show that as the percentage of women legislators increases by 10 percent, countries are about 10 percent more likely to adopt legal protections against domestic violence and sexual harassment. In Argentina, female parliamentarians represent only 14 percent of deputies but introduced 78 percent of the bills related to women’s rights. These gains are the result of empowered women’s leadership.

Mina’s List is committed to giving aspiring women political leaders the power they need to advance women’s rights. Now is the time to capitalize on the current global increase of women in politics. Women deserve to have representatives who will drive their issues forward, and we all deserve to enjoy what women parliamentarians contribute to the world.

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Mina's List
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Cambridge, MA 02139
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