TAN : As a female leader amongst the African society how would you describe your success?
I have had some success and I can describe this success by sharing three rules, which I live by. The first rule is work harder than everybody else. The second rule is never taking no for an answer. If something tells me that I cannot do something I will work as hard as I need to in order to ensure that I achieve it. Finally my third rule is always aim to be just one percent better than you were the day before.
TAN : What gave you the desire to enter politics?
My father was a Member of Parliament in Uganda so I grew up around politics. Unfortunately, when we came to Canada as refugees I was afraid that my dream of becoming a politician had been shattered. Although I did still have a desire to be involved in politics I picked up odd jobs with the Liberal Party and began to work my way up.
I quickly learned that as a lawyer I could help individuals but if I wanted to make a difference for many people I would have to make policy changes. This is why in 1993 and in 1997 I ran to be a Member of Parliaments. Although I was unsuccessful in 2001 I was given the biggest honor a Canadian can receive and was asked by Prime Minister Jean Chretien to become a member of the Senate of Canada.
Now as a Parliamentarian, I work hard to change the lives of the people in Canada and abroad.
TAN : Many people who have immigrated from Africa to Canada are experiencing difficulty integrating into society. How would you go about helping newly arrived immigrants transition into living in a new country?
One of the biggest concerns I have is that there isn’t a strong network of African immigrants as there is for other communities such as the South Asians and the Chinese. This is why I truly respect the work that the SAGE foundation does as it helps newly arrived immigrants transition into a new life in Canada.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done and the first thing we need to do is stop thinking of our selves as coming from one country or another. We need to start thinking that we are from the same continent. If we come together and focus on what we have in common we will find strength and persevere.
TAN: You have been active in helping women across Africa. What are some of the issues you focus on?
For a number of years I have been travelling to villages across Africa in an effort to help eradicate polio and malaria. Recently I have also been working quite closely on maternal health initiatives as I am of the belief that maternal health is a human right. Just a few months ago I travelled to Uganda and visited a maternal health clinic located in Kawempe. I was truly shocked at what I saw. Shortly after arriving I learned that there had no been electricity or water for over three weeks. This meant that each night an average of 20 births took place by candlelight. In addition to this the clinic was extremely over crowded which meant that each bed was occupied by at least 3 women. I believe that this is unacceptable and I continue to work hard to ensure that clinics like the one I visited in Kawempe have access to the resources they need to assist women.
TAN: What is your hope in you political life?
Canada is one of the most privileged countries in the world. We have a lot to be thankful for. My hope is that in my political life I can help ensure that our country plays a bigger role in helping those countries, which are not as fortunate. I also wish to work on issues of diversity and multiculturalism, as I believe these are both extremely important issues and our ones, which Canada can lead the way on.
TAN: What is your advise to youth?
To all young people I would like to share with you three pieces of advice: One, never forget the power of an education. You are fortunate to live in Canada, which is home to several world-renowned universities. Knowledge is power, work hard and make the most of your education. Two, learn as many languages as you can as this will prove to open doors for you in the future. Three, while you are young take the opportunity to work in another country, as this will indeed change your perspective.
Biography : The Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer, Q.C., LL.B.
Appointed to the Senate June 13, 2001, by the Rt. Honourable Jean Chrétien, Senator Mobina Jaffer represents the province of British Columbia and the Senatorial Division of British Columbia.
Senator Jaffer served as Canada’s Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan from 2002- 2006 and as the Chair of the Canadian Committee on Women Peace and Security from 2002 – 2005. In addition, Senator Jaffer sits on various Senate committees and is the current Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights.
An accomplished lawyer, Senator Jaffer has practiced law at the firm Dohm, Jaffer and Jeraj since 1978. Made a Queen’s Counsel in 1998, Senator Jaffer has a distinguished record of service to the legal profession. Since 1997, she has been Vice-Chair of the Canadian Membership Committee for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Since 1994, she has been working with the Immigration and Refugee Board on gender and race issues, and since 1993 she has been a member of the Board of Governors of the Trial Lawyers of British Columbia. In 1994-95, Senator Jaffer served as a Member of the Canadian Bar Association Multicultural Committee; from 1995 to 1999 she was a Member of the Peoples Law School Committee, and from 1992-96 she was a Member of the Law Society Multicultural Committee.