The iconic daughter of Afghanistan, who is leading Canada’s fight against poverty and gender inequality across the world as a minister


LONDON: We all accept the fact that globalisation has turned modern citizens into global nomads with multiple identities such as British Asians, American Muslims and Afghan Canadians.  

One unique personality among the many Afghan Canadians is Maryam Monsef, one of the most iconic and inspirational daughters of Afghanistan, who has reached the high rank of a minister in the government, in her adopted country of Canada.

Photo: Women Deliver

Among the Afghan diaspora across the world, there is no one that has reached the epitome of success in the government of his / her adopted country like Maryam Monsef, and that is what makes her the role model for the sons and daughters of Afghan diaspora communities from Australia to United Kingdom, America and all the way to Canada.   

Maryam is a prime example of human resilience. She overcame almost all the barriers that a human can possibly face in life and today leads her nation’s most important work across the globe.

As a Muslim girl from Afghanistan born in exile in Iran, she rose against all odds as a woman from the ethnic minority groups in a man dominated political arena to become a Member of Parliament, then a Minister for Status of Women and Minister for International Development in Canada.

She has led the way and shown young Afghan girls and boys how they can became active contributors and leaders of their adopted countries against a narrative of returning back to Afghanistan to serve a warlord, a corrupt politician or a racist nationalist power-broker.

We have heard many stories of Afghan expat taxi drivers, pizza delivery boys and those jobless on state benefits returning to Afghanistan with European and American passports, and suddenly becoming governors, diplomats and ministers due to their close relationships with warlords and corrupt political power-brokers.

These same people are then promoted, presented and given a red carpet welcome by countless European and north American embassies, think-tanks and government agencies as the exemplary personalities of Afghanistan. Making a lot of talented youth feel alien in their home countries and made to think that success is under the foot of a warlord.

Thanks to Maryam Monsef, young Afghans from the diaspora communities can now dream of becoming the mayors of great cities like London and New York, become members of parliament in Europe, governors in America and possibly the next heads of states of their adopted countries just like their other countrymen of Indian and Asian origin.

Not only that. Maryam has also crushed the nonsensical and discriminatory mindset, attitude and narrative of those who see western born and naturalised Afghan citizens of Europe and north America as refugees or foreigners.

These globalised citizens are not foreigners but the future leaders of their adopted nations where their multicultural, multilingual and multi-geographical backgrounds will be the greatest assets of these nations, and bridges with nations of the world, especially a rising Asia.

Maryam is not covered in the local media in Afghanistan as she is not linked to any corrupt politician or warlord, neither is she covered in publications of aid agencies to showcase the true capability of the people and women of Afghanistan. And this is exactly why we are profiling her because she is what represents the true talent of our daughters and sons, a leader of a G7 nation.

As the Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Maryam has secured major investments in Canada’s equality-seeking movement, including over $200 million to help prevent and address gender-based violence, and $100 million to build the capacity of women’s organizations from coast to coast to coast.

She launched the first-ever federal gender-based violence strategy, has worked with the Minister of Finance to ensure that all federal budgets have to undergo a gender budgeting process; and partnered with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and the President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government to create and pass historic proactive pay equity legislation to ensure equal pay for work of equal value in the federally regulated sector.

Since March 1, 2019, Maryam has taken on new responsibilities as Minister of International Development, where she will continue the government’s work to advance the rights of women and girls abroad through Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.