May 2019 Blog: Maryam Monsef & Lessons on Resilience

During Ramadan 2019, the Hon. Minister Maryam Monsef hosted an Iftar with a diverse community of Afghan women and our mothers.


Maryam Monsef is a household name among Afghans in Canada and abroad.

We know her accomplishments: She came to Canada as a refugee from Afghanistan in 1996. After being elected MP in 2015, she currently holds two ministerial portfolios. She was the 1st ever Afghan to be elected to any level of government in Canadian history. A trailblazer in so many ways.

This blog post is not about reiterating all of the work she has done and continues to do. Instead, I want to make a personal reflection on one part of her journey that has inspired me and I hope inspires you.

As a self-proclaimed political junkie, I can tell you that despite how crazy politics may look from the outside, believe it or not, it offers many inspiring life lessons. One of them is that failure after trying your hardest is never detrimental, nor does it define you. A closer look at Maryam Monsef’s story illustrates this nicely.

In 2014, before Monsef entered the life of federal politics, before any of us even knew her name, she ran to become the Mayor of Peterborough. She ended up coming a close 2nd place, just 1300 votes from the 1st place candidate. So close! But as they say, no one ever remembers who won 2nd place (except Raptors fans if they don’t win the finals…).

Losing an election sucks. Mostly because elections involve a gigantic team effort – aside from the candidate, there’s an entire team behind you who are all dedicated to one mission: helping you win. Volunteers, campaign managers, campaign workers, family, friends, everyone. It also involves lots of money. So when you lose, you feel like you let everyone down. It’s tough.

At this point though, Monsef was noticed by the Liberal party, who saw what a strong and determined campaign she ran. They approached her to become the Liberal candidate in Peterborough-Kawartha, and she decided to go for it.

Flash forward to October 2015, she wins the election in her riding and becomes a Minister, making history.

IMO The two main lessons from this are:

  1. It’s not about the product, it’s about the process. Maryam Monsef worked hard while she was running for Mayor, and that’s why she was noticed. She wasn’t judged for losing the Mayoral race. This goes to say that in your personal life, if you ever don’t achieve a goal despite working really hard for it, don’t think your effort went to waste. There’s always something bigger and better out there for you, even though you may not see it in that very moment!
  2. Don’t let failure define you. Let your hard work and work ethic define you. I believe that Maryam Monsef’s experience as a refugee and newcomer to Canada shaped her determination in the work that she does. In the same way, we all have unique experiences and backgrounds that have shaped who we are. Let’s use our unique backgrounds to motivate us to give 100% to the process. Keep at your goals and you’ll eventually reach them. 

I hope this post inspired you. Please comment below with your thoughts – we’d love to hear from you!




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