Women in Politics: Mana Moshkforoush on Being a Daughter of the Vote

This week I had the great pleasure of interviewing a good friend of mine, Mana Moshkforoush, who had the amazing opportunity to visit Ottawa a few weeks ago to participate in the Daughters of the Vote program, an initiative by Equal Voice to invite 338 young women leaders to take their seat in Parliament. One young woman between the ages of 18-23 was chosen from each federal riding to take part in this historic event which marks the 100th anniversary of the first time women gained the right to vote in Canada. The week-long event from March 6th to 10th also coincided with this year's International Women's Day as well as Canada's 150th anniversary. Needless to say, I was super excited that someone so close to me got to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime (but then again, maybe not) chance.

Michelle Shen for Her Campus McGill (HC McGill): To begin, how about telling us a bit about yourself?  

Mana Moshkforoush (MM): I am a first-year student from North Vancouver, BC, studying in the Life Sciences program at McGill! The “bit about myself” changes from time to time but I currently obsess over student government and representation at McGill, enjoy attending workshops and lecture-talks in an unsystematic fashion, and am learning to navigate the maze that is student life in university!

HC McGill: So, why did you choose to participate in the Daughters of the Vote program?

MM: Just as much as I value student representation on campus at McGill, I have a deep-seated belief that politicians who run a government have a responsibility to their constituents in being the voice that speaks to the people’s needs and concerns. Daughters of the Vote gave me the opportunity to represent my riding and bring forth the issues that exist in my community. But most importantly, the program created a platform for exploring the role of women in politics and how much more ground needs to be covered in eliminating the unequal gender representation in governments and institutions in Canada and around the world.

HC McGill: And how exactly did the week unfold?

MM: The first two days covered policy issues with politician keynote speakers, a plenary with members of the House of Commons Status of Women Committee, as well as policy roundtables with experts from fields ranging from Democratic Engagement to International Development and Foreign Policy.

On International Women’s Day, March 8th, 338 young women representing every riding from across Canada took their seat in place of their MP in the House of Commons. Making history as the largest external party to have ever entered the House, we had the honour of being addressed by Speaker Geoff Regan, the Rt Hon. Kim Campbell (who was the first female PM of Canada), as well as all party leaders/designates: Justin Trudeau, Rona Ambrose, Tom Mulcair, and Elizabeth May. Every delegate also had the chance to have lunch with her MP and later attend Question Period. That evening at the formal gala attended by delegates and MPs, I had the opportunity to sit next to the Minister of Status of Women Canada, the Hon. Maryam Monsef!

The rest of the week focused on professional development with speakers, a keynote luncheon, a politician panel, and leadership workshops with themes ranging from pathways to politics to community engagement.

HC McGill: What would you say was the highlight of the day?

MM: The highlight of the day was the period in the House of Commons when delegates individually stood up to address Parliament and speak of issues that each felt passionate about and that we believe the government should play a role in combatting. The solidarity and allyship among 338 strong and willful women was an emotional and thoroughly inspiring sight to behold. Furthermore, the opportunity that delegates were given to ask pressing and direct questions to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and demand that answers be provided was representative of the program’s incentive to encourage us to hold our government accountable at all times.

HC McGill: What were some of the issues that were touched upon by you and your fellow delegates?

MM: Issues discussed included eliminating the gender wage gap that still plagues societies around the world, the lack of mental health services in Indigenous communities, the need for condemnation of Islamophobia at the government and societal levels, the importance of immigrant rights and services across Canada, the effects and consequences of racism and racial profiling, the lack of representation from minority groups in all levels of government, the toxicity of homophobia and the lack of LGBTQ+ support in society, and many more.

HC McGill: You mentioned that being seated in the House of Commons among 338 strong and willful women was both emotional and inspiring. Could you elaborate a bit more on how you felt sitting in the House of Commons? How was it being a part of this historic moment? 

MM: Sitting in the House of Commons and being addressed by Canada’s party leaders made me realize how much potential there is for moving forward, creating and implementing the policies that will bring about equality for everyone in society. It is one thing to be opinionated and passionate about an issue, and another to actively work towards the improvement that is sought. This experience gave me the optimism and drive to work towards realizing the world I envision in which opportunities are granted and potentials are met.

HC McGill: What else have you picked up from this experience?

MM: I learned that politics has no profile. I do not need to be of a certain ethnicity, from a certain socioeconomic background, hold a certain educational field’s degree, or act or speak with a certain tone to be a politician. Politics is what you make of it, and government is who you put in it. Therefore, a government that prides itself on representing the people will have politicians from amongst the people and policies that take care of the people.

HC McGill: Is there anything else that you would like to share?

MM: I would like to thank Equal Voice for organizing the Daughters of the Vote national leadership forum and giving myself and 337 other girls from across Canada this incredible opportunity.

Please look forward to the awesome work that Mana will no doubt be a part of in the incoming school year as she continues her involvement with student government at McGill and with her local community. 



Photos provided by interviewee