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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

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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.

Mina’s List NYC Launch Party

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Click here to view more photos from the NYC Launch.

On the evening of Tuesday, February 3rd, Mina’s List hosted its New York launch at the home of Abigail Disney. We shared the evening with a diverse, prominent group of individuals - from nonprofit leaders and entrepreneurs to philanthropists and government officials - all committed to ML’s vision of women’s equal and substantive political representation. Together we realized that without empowered women policymakers who would transform the systems that marginalize and discriminate against women and girls, it would be difficult to achieve lasting and substantive change. 

Our keynote speaker for the launch was the Hon. Shinkai Karokhail, Afghan Parliamentarian and Mina’s List Advisory Board member. Mrs. Karokhail discussed the obstacles women parliamentarians face when advocating for the rights of women and girls. She strongly believes that Mina’s List can help improve the status of women in Afghanistan through its work to empower women as political leaders.

As the Hon. Shinkai Karokhail shared with us:

“We need women with a vision, women who are really committed to changing the lives of other women. Otherwise, if we do not bring women into politics, if we do not increase their number, if we do not have a specific agenda, I do not think our male politicians will be wiling to share, and give rights, and listen to them. So who is going to do that? The best way is to have a strong, committed, mission-driven woman inside the parliament to lobby, advocate, and claim the rights of half the population.”

Mina’s List plans to help politically empower women like the ones Mrs. Karokhail described through the ML Afghan Pilot Program. Mina’s List will host the program in the Spring of 2015, in partnership with the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) and Afghan Women’s Educational Center (AWEC). The purpose of our pilot program is to empower Afghan women who are committed to advancing a women’s rights agenda as political leaders in preparation for the 2015 Parliamentary elections. Program participants will be provided with access to relevant educational resources, empowerment workshops, a mentorship program, and an online engagement platform. 

Through programs in Afghanistan and beyond, Mina’s List hopes to build a sustainable, long-term framework for women political leaders that will improve their ability to advance a women’s rights agenda.

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Mina's List
PO Box 390185
Cambridge, MA 02139
Call + 1 (617) 945-2194