by S. Ghilzai / February 5, 2016
Maryam Monsef is a Canadian politician of Afghan descent. She is a Member of Canada’s Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha, and the Minister of Democratic Institutions.
Born in Herat in November 1985, Monsef’s father died when she was still an infant. Her mother struggled to raise her three daughters under the growing problems in Afghanistan. She moved the family between Iran and Afghanistan for many years, until they finally made the journey to Canada, through Pakistan, Iran and Jordan. The family settled in Peterborough, a city in the Canadian province of Ontario, where they already had extended relatives. Monsef went to Trent University, in Peterborough, and earned a degree in Psychology. While at Trent University, she co-founded a grassroots initiative called the Red Pashmina Campaign. According to her official website, so far, the campaign has raised over $150,000 to help support women in Afghanistan.
Monsef’s induction into politics happened when she ran for mayor of Peterborough in 2014, though she did not win, the Liberal Party of Canada chose her to represent them in the upcoming federal election. She was elected on the 19th of October 2015, winning 43.8% of the vote. Justin Trudeau, the current Prime Minister of Canada, appointed her as the Minister of Democratic Institutions – a part of his cabinet. She is not only the second-youngest Canadian minister ever, but she is also the first to be born in Afghanistan.