(Originally Published on July 17, 2015)
Afghanistan has long been regarded as the worst place in the world to be a woman. Nearly two-thirds of girls are out of school and 87 percent of women face abuse.
But young women like 28-year-old Shahba Shahrukhi says the country has some of the strongest women in the world.
“From the day I was born, the only thing I thought was how to survive. No one in Afghanistan, especially women, are left with room for us to think on how to live,” says Shahba Shahrukhi. “But we are the ones who will make Afghanistan a better country.”
Shahba is one of 35 aspiring female parliamentary candidates who received mentoring and leadership training through Mina’s List last summer in New Delhi, India; and one of the 27 of them who is running in tomorrow’s parliamentary election — the country’s first in eight years.
Mina’s List was founded in 2014 as a non-profit organization dedicated to realizing women’s equal and substantive political representation in national governments around the world.
Mina’s List works collaboratively with in-country women’s rights organizations and current women legislators to develop country-specific trainings and an ongoing mentorship program to build the capacity and skills of aspiring women political leaders who commit to advance women’s rights as elected officials. Research shows that when women are empowered as political leaders, more laws are passed to promote women’s rights and countries experience higher standards of living for all people.
“For every 5% increase of women’s political representation in parliament, their country is five times less likely to engage in conflict when faced with international crisis,” says Mina’s List founder Tanya Henderson.
Mina’s List also partnered with Voatz, a Boston-based mobile election voting platform, to develop a mobile platform to help overcome the barriers to political leadership. Through utilizing the blockchain and security technology, the platform gives women candidates a place to safely manage their campaigns and receive campaign donations, via a built-in money transfer system.
“Everything is stacked against these women,” says Voatz founder Nimit Sawhney. “We’re trying to level the playing field.”
For participants like Wajida Azizi, a 27-year-old activist who is running in Baghlan province, Mina’s List has given her confidence.
“The women of Afghanistan will never stop dreaming,” she said. “We will be the ones to turn a new page in our country.”
(Originally Published on July 18, 2015)
This past Sunday, September 17, at the MIT Solve Challenge Finals in New York City, an audience of technology innovators and entrepreneurs picked the Mina’s List/Voatz team’s project as the one they were most excited to learn about.
Mina’s List and Voatz’s campaigning and fundraising mobile platform, which will enable women candidates worldwide to safely and securely overcome the economic and social barriers preventing women’s political participation, was selected as a Finalist for the Solve Challenge out of 953 solutions from 103 countries across the globe. On Sunday, all of the Solve Challenge Finalists were invited to pitch their solution to the team of judges and audience members. In the video below, Mina’s List Founder, Tanya Henderson explains how women’s increased political representation is essential for global development, and how Mina’s List and Voatz’s solution will help women candidates run for office on a women’s rights platform, and win.
(Originally Published on March 6, 2015)
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:
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!