Australia’s 1st Hijabi Senator Tells Girls “Wear your hijab with pride”

The 27-year-old Senator Fatima Payman, the first hijab-wearing Muslim woman in Australia’s federal parliament, encouraged girls who wear hijab to ‘do it with pride in her first speech to the Senate on Wednesday.

She is the daughter of a refugee from Afghanistan, is also the youngest member of this parliament, and the first Afghan-Australian to be elected.

Proudly addressing the Senate in a hijab, Payman said the parliament started to reflect Australia’s “true diversity”.

“A hundred years ago, let alone ten years ago, would this parliament accept a woman choosing a hijab to be elected?” she said in the Senate.

Australia's 1st Hijabi Senator Tells Girls "Wear your hijab with pride"

“For those who choose to judge me on what I should wear or judge my competency based on my external [appearance], know that the hijab is my choice,” she said.

The senator for Western Australia also addressed her status as the first parliamentarian to wear the hijab, saying she hoped her journey could inspire others.

“I want young girls who decide to wear the hijab to do it with pride and to do it with the knowledge that they have the right to wear it. I won’t judge someone wearing boardies and flip-flops across the street, I don’t expect people to judge me for wearing my staff.”

Senator Payman became emotional as she reflected on the “sacrifices” of her late father in giving her the chance to become a senator.

Australia's 1st Hijabi Senator Tells Girls "Wear your hijab with pride"

Her father Abdul Wakil Payman came to Australia by boat as a refugee in 1999 and was locked up in immigration detention.

For four years, he worked grueling hours as a kitchen hand, taxi driver, and security guard to save enough money to sponsor his family.

“I’d like my first gratitude to be expressed to my late forgotten father whose sacrifices will never be forgotten and who I dearly wish was here to see how far his little daughter has come,” she said.

Mehreen Faruqi is the first Australian Muslim senator but does not wear a hijab. 

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