A senator makes history after she becomes the first Muslim woman wearing hijab to claim a seat in Western Australia’s government.
Fatima Payman is breaking barriers for Muslim women everywhere after she becomes the first hijab-clad politician to win enough votes for a seat in Australia’s Senate. The 27-year-old Australian-Muslim will be claiming her position for the Labour Party early next month and she will be doing so with the utmost pride.
“I want to normalise hijab wearing,” she told Guardian Australia. “I hope to be an inspiration to many other young Australians, that just because you believe in God, or just because you look different, it shouldn’t prevent you from being involved in such an important institution.
“You can’t be what you can’t see, and if that [parliament] is not reflective of the general Australian public then how can you have complete faith that they can hear your voice, and be your voice in power?”
This win is incredibly important to Payman given her turbulent childhood.
At only five-years-old, the Afghan-native was forced to flee the Taliban along with her family for being associated with the country’s political sphere. Her grandfather was a member of the Afghani parliament, hoping to bring about positive change for the country, but after the Taliban took charge, Payman and her family became a target for the extremist group. They had no choice but to leave their homeland and seek refuge down under in Perth and here, they built a good life for themselves. Her mother started a business being a driving instructor while her father worked in multiple professions as a kitchen hand, a security guard and a taxi driver.
Payman also told the outlet that despite having to give up politics in Afghanistan, her father never stopped talking about the possibility of going back but didn’t expect his daughter to follow in the legacy of her grandfather. After he tragically passed away in 2018, she started her journey to where she is now.
“He never conceptualised the idea that one day his daughter could be running in the Senate in Australia,” she said. “When I joined the union I found that there were resources out there for workers to fight for better wages, pay and conditions that my dad didn’t have the privilege of, or the understanding of,” she said. “Thinking of how hard he struggled for us and how much he sacrificed for us, I can’t let his sacrifices go in vain and I really do want to advocate for workers like him who are really just trying to make ends meet and make a better life for their families.”
According to her personal profile on the official Labour website for Australia, she is extremely “passionate about breaking down barriers for women and young people, and encouraging them to voice their opinions. [She] wants to give back to the community that has given her so much.”