Africa’s Most Powerful Women! Meet Senator Mobina Jaffer Bandali The First Ugandan Female Muslim Senator In Canada’s Political Landscape

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Africa's Most Powerful Women! Meet Senator Mobina Jaffer Bandari The First Ugandan Female Muslim Senator in Great Britain's Political Landscape

The next time you’re talking about Ugandan or African powerful women with influence both at continental and global stages, and who are transforming the status quo for the betterment of human race, forget NOT Senator Mobina Jaffer Sherali Bandali.

Born in Kampala, Uganda on August 20, 1949 (74 yrs ago), Senator Mobina represents the province of British Columbia in the Senate of Canada. Appointed to the Senate on June 13, 2001 by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, she is the first Muslim senator, the first African-born senator, and the first senator of South Asian descent.

After spending almost a decade with the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, Senator Mobina had the opportunity to chair a number of studies including one on the sexual exploitation of children in Canada and the need for national action. A champion of Canada’s linguistic bilingualism, she advocates measures to advance the use of English and French in communities across Canada. As public safety has assumed a significant place in national debate and policy, Senator Mobina raised awareness on the abuse of profiling in counterterrorism measures and the fundamental imperative to respect privacy, Human Rights, and the rule of law. Communities are at the heart of any successful policy initiative and progress; Senator Mobina works to engage communities in protecting Human Rights, celebrating Canada’s diversity, and promoting progress.

Senator Mobina served as Canada’s Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan from 2002 to 2006. From 2002 to 2005, she chaired the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace, and Security. Mobina is often invited to speak at International conferences on security issues and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which “urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts” and “calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict.” As a grandmother, women’s rights and children’s rights are central to Senator Mobina’s advocacy.

An accomplished lawyer, Senator Mobina has practiced law at the firm Dohm, Jaffer and Jeraj since 1978. Appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1998, Mobina was the first Ugandan-South Asian woman to practice law in Canada and she has a distinguished record of service to the legal profession.

The Women’s Executive Network named her among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2003 and 2004. In 2003, she received an Honorary Doctorate from Open Learning University.

Senator Mobina earned a Bachelor of Laws from London University in London, England in 1972. She has also completed the Executive Development program at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. She’s linguistic by nature, who speaks six languages with ease. Mobina is married with two adult children and two grandchildren.

More About Senator Mobina

Senator Mobina Jaffer Doing What She Does Best

Senator Mobina was born in Kampala, Uganda to late Sherali Bandali Jaffer, a Ugandan of Asian origin, and founder of Fairway Hotel Kampala. That makes her a biological aunt to the current Managing Director of Fairway Hotel, Mr. Azhar Jaffer Bandali, who is son to late Aneeze Sherali Bandali (Mobina’s late young brother). The young entrepreneurial and dynamic Azhar Jaffer, who has turned around the 3rd generation family business, Fairway Hotel in a short period of time grew up and studied in Canada. After his Bachelor’s degree at McGill University in Montreal Canada, Azhar later joined IE University in Madrid, Spain for his MBA in business strategy and Entrepreneurship. In business circles, Azhar is a well-known strategist whose skills of negotiations and quick appreciation of the prevailing circumstances can’t go unnoticed. He serves on various business panel discussions and boards where he freely contributes to the private sector-led economy of Uganda and abroad.

At age 36, he already sits on various high level business boards, which include; Uganda Tourism Association (representing Hotels), The Aga Khan (Outreach), Entrepreneurs’ Organization-Uganda and Uganda Council on Foreign Relations, to mention but a few, where he sits with the likes of Rtd. Gen.Ivan Koreta among others.     

Back to our today’s personality: Senator Mobina was the first of the six children in the family. She attended several Aga Khan Schools from kindergarten to high school, and later in England and Canada. At one point, she received a scholarship for a high school exchange program in the United States and spent a year studying in Washington DC. She had just completed her law degree from London University (1972), and returned to Uganda when the Indian expulsion decree was announced in 1972 by then president Idi Amin.

Senator Mobina is a past member of the Girl Guides of Canada who held many volunteer roles including as a Brownie, Guide, and Pathfinder Leader, and as an elected Commissioner Since 1997, Mobina has been Vice-Chair of the Canadian membership committee for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and, since 1993, a member of the board of governors of the Trial Lawyers of British Columbia. She has also been active with the Immigrant and Refugee Board.

In 2014, Mobina was one of the recipients of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards presented by Canadian Immigrant Magazine.

Mobina has served as Vice-President of the Liberal Party of Canada from 1994 to 1998 and as President of the National Women’s Liberal Commission from 1998 to 2003. She also served on the board of the Liberal International in 1996.

Mobina is currently a sitting member on the Standing Senate Committees on National Security and Defense, Finance, Official Languages and Internal Affairs, and the Senate Subcommittees on Veterans Affairs and Diversity.

In one of her personal life experience conversations with a close friend, Senator Mobina, holding back her tears with difficulty, reflected on the trauma she endured in 1972 in Uganda following the expulsion of Asians, particularly for her family as both her father and husband were kidnapped by the Ugandan military. Fortunately, due to her family’s close relations with several African leaders, her family was able to flee the country to London, England, and eventually to Vancouver, Canada in 1975, because her father, Sherali had always dreamed of retiring in Vancouver.

Born with a passion for challenging societal norms, Senator Mobina has emerged as a champion in the fight for gender equality and her journey is a testament to resilience and determination as she has navigated the complexities of cultural diversity, political landscapes, and gender biases to reach the top.

As a leader, Senator Mobina has tirelessly worked to amplify the voices of African women, addressing systemic challenges and paving way for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Beyond the borders of the African continent, her impact resonates globally as a powerful advocate for collaboration and dialogue, bridging gaps between cultures and fostering a sense of unity and empowerment among women worldwide, leaving an indelible mark on the international stage.

Being a powerful force in the Canadian politics, Senator Mobina stands out as an inspiring force, illustrating how African women are not just embracing change but also driving it. Through her dedication, resilience and unwavering commitment, she represents the true spirit of a new era for African women, reshaping narratives and leaving an enduring legacy for generations to come.

Her story is one of resilience and triumph over adversity, having being born in Africa, Senator Mobina has faced numerous challenges and hardships that could have easily deterred others but her determination and perseverance propelled her to rise to the occasion, overcoming obstacles in pursuit of her goals. Her ascent to become one of the most powerful women from African is a testament to her unwavering commitment and dedication. Her journey reflects not only personal triumph but also the breaking down of barriers in the realm of global politics.

Brief History About The Sherali Bandali Family

Sherali Bandali Jaffer is considered the father of racial harmony in Uganda. He was a member of the 1st post Independence Parliament of Uganda representing Kampala West under the political party of the King of Buganda-Kabaka Yekka (KY).

He’s among the Asians who were expelled by Amin in 1979, but when he arrived in Canada, he helped in settling 55,000 of the 80,000 then homeless Asians, including Ugandans who had fled along from their ‘brother’ Idi Amin. Bandali negotiated their settlement and processed their citizenship paperwork for both Canada and UK, and up to today, those families are still living in peace and harmony there.

Bandali was the first Ugandan to host the Holy Pope Paul IV on his maiden trip to Africa, at his home then, which he later turned into Fairway Hotel that has now become a home away from home to many. Sherali is one of the most selfless Africans of Asian origin whose immense contribution towards development and unification of Africa through trans-African collaborations has been recognized and appreciated by far and wide. It’s against the above reasons, among others, that in 2022, he was awarded at the annual Pan-African Pyramid Global Awards by the Pan-African Pyramid, a non-Governmental Organization based in Kampala, as one of the leading Ugandan-Asian Industrialists and entrepreneurs who contributed to the economic development of Uganda and Africa at large.  Sherali was among the people who worked tirelessly to shape the political landscape of Uganda’s political stability.

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