Interview by Allison Daroie
This week's Monday Maven is Tanya Henderson, a truly magical human. She is kind, sincere and fighting for women globally on a daily basis. She founded, Mina's List, a Cambridge-based, non-profit organization working to place women in political leadership positions all over the world. It's been shown that when women are placed in political roles, women gain more rights, also countries experience better education, health and economic development.
Tanya is a close friend. We spent a great deal of time together when discussing plans of our prospective startups. We're working on doing some fun things together. Keep an eye out! Please enjoy...
AD: Please explain who you are and what you do. TH: By training I'm an international human rights and women's rights attorney. For the past several years I've worked on the women, peace, and security policy agenda promoting the role of women in conflict prevention and peace-building. Through this work, I came to realize how necessary it is to have empowered women in national decision-making roles. Despite being more than fifty percent of the population, globally, only one in five parliamentarians are female. I founded Mina's List to help women, who commit to women's rights, get elected to national governments in countries around the world. Our current project is in Afghanistan, where we are training 15 women to run for parliament in the Afghanistan's next elections.
AD: Where are you from originally?
TH: I grew up throughout the New England area. I say "throughout" because my parents were hippies and we moved around a lot. In fact, my parents started a macrobiotic commune in the early seventies in Cohasset, Massachusetts where we lived in my early childhood.
AD: Where did your motivation to pursue your passion originate? What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to get where you are today?
TH: I can't remember a time when I wasn't fighting against some inequality or injustice. I think that for me, it was a 'given' that all people are equal and deserve to treated with fundamental respect and dignity. As a young girl I would get confused when others tried to limit me or my potential merely because of my sex. While, I have worked as a civil rights attorney and on poverty issues globally, I have been working to advance the empowerment of women and girls since I worked for the Girl Scouts in the early 1990's.
AD: What is a typical day like for you?
TH: Oh wow,... as a start-up, a typical day includes everything from writing training curriculum for the aspiring women political candidates, to skyping with my women's rights partner organizations in Afghanistan, Nigeria or Cameroon, working on financial budgets to writing a grant proposal, content for my website or a speech for an upcoming conference. I get to wear many hats.
AD: What was your largest life lesson?
TH: That life never unfolds as you plan, but the potential to transform the 'unexpected' into opportunities for growth, joy, and deep fulfillment is unlimited.
AD: What’s your typical fitness routine?
TH: I work out twice a week with the most amazing personal trainer (Joanne Schumacher at Healthworks:)) because if she wasn't expecting me at the gym, I'm not sure I would ever get there!
AD: What are your daily beauty rituals?
TH: I am meticulous about washing my face twice a day, and using moisturizer as well as a good toner.
AD: What's a go to place in your area?
TH: Mass Ave Diner - best banana walnut pancakes in town!
AD: What’s the top song on your playlist right now?
TH: Ellie Goulding is one of my current favorites.
AD: Who inspires you more than anyone else in this world?
TH: My mother,... I know that sounds cliche but if you met her you would understand. She is absolutely beautiful, always growing spiritually and in life, and is the best cheerleader a girl could ask for.
AD: How do versatile pieces make your life easier?
TH: Anything that means I have to think less about day-to-day activities.
AD: Are there any words of wisdom you'd like to leave with us?
TH: Women have so much untapped potential! We spend far too much time trying to overcome the layers of insecurity and doubt that have been placed on us. It's time to shed the social constructs that have absolutely nothing to do with who we really are and truly shine!