The Hon. Maryam Monsef
Founder and CEO, ONWARD
From 2015-2021, The Honourable Maryam Monsef served as Canada’s Minister for Democratic Institutions, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister of International Development, and Minister of Rural Economic Development. She also established Canada’s first full department for Women and Gender Equality. Today, as the founder and CEO of ONWARD, Monsef continues to advance her vision for a world where women and their families are thriving. She is a globally recognized feminist, leader, and changemaker who equips audiences with effective DEI strategies while sharing hard-earned lessons on leadership and resilience.
For two consecutive years, Monsef was recognized by Apolitical, as well as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Michelle Obama, and Malala, as one of the “Top 20 Global Influencers on Gender Equality”. After leaving politics, she founded ONWARD to build a community that empowers, connects, and supports women. It also acts as a resource for professional women feeling stuck at a difficult point in their lives.
An Afghan Canadian, Monsef came to Canada as a refugee. In 2015, she was elected as a Member of Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha and joined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet. She was tasked with driving social and economic justice files for the Government of Canada, both at home and abroad. Under her stewardship, Canada was recognized as a world leader in sexual and reproductive health and rights, for its investments in domestic and international grassroots women’s organizations, and for its intersectional response to COVID-19.
Monsef currently chairs the Women United Campaign with the United Way Peterborough and District, is involved with the Trent University community, and works closely with Afghan women human rights defenders and other high-impact teams locally, nationally, and globally. Throughout her political career, Monsef has spoken at several high-profile events, including The World Economic Forum, the G7, the G20, and in front of the UN.