Fatima Payman, An Afghan Refugee Who Becomes Australia’s First Hijabi Senator

Fatima Payman 1

A woman wearing a hijab has caught the public’s attention after claiming victory in the Senate election in Western Australia on June 20, which automatically made her the first Senator to wear a hijab in the Australian Parliament and the youngest serving Senator.

Her name is Fatima Payman, 27, and she is an Afghan refugee who moved to Australia when she was 8 years old. In her first speech to Parliament, Payman tearfully expressed gratitude to her father for his sacrifice, who arrived in Australia as an Afghan refugee and died in 2018.

Payman proudly said that who would have thought that a young woman born in Afghanistan and the daughter of a refugee would be standing before the Australian Parliament.

Fatima Payman
Photo by Sean Davey – Credit: The West Australian

Payman further recounts the sacrifices of her father. He worked odd jobs in the early years of arriving in Australia, from a taxi driver to a security guard, in order to save enough money to meet the needs of Payman and her three younger siblings. She sadly mentions that his father has struggled to ensure she and her siblings had the future he couldn’t secure for himself.

Payman was just eight years old when she and her mother and three siblings first set foot in Australia in 2003, following his father, who arrived in 1999.

Inspired by the hard work of her parents, Payman, who studied at the Australian Islamic College in Perth to become a doctor, however interested in politics by joining the United Workers Union, the largest labor union in the Kangaroo Country. Fatima was later elected as a senator in the Australian Labor Party.

Payman’s election made her the first and third-youngest Senator to wear a hijab in Australian history, given her 27-year-old age. She is also the youngest Senator currently active in Parliament.

Unfortunately, Payman lost his father, who was grappling with leukemia, in 2018. Payman’s father never lived to see his daughter become a Senator.

Regarding her choice to wear the hijab, Payman said that those who choose to advise or judge her competence based on her external appearance must understand that the hijab is her choice.

She advised that young girls who decide to wear the hijab should do so with pride and be equipped with the knowledge that they have the right to wear it.

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