Fatima Payman has won Western Australia’s sixth and final Senate seat, becoming the first Afghan-Australian and the first hijab-wearing Muslim woman in parliament.
Ms Payman arrived as a refugee from Afghanistan as a child with her parents and three siblings, before growing up in Perth’s northern suburbs.
In her early years, her father worked around the clock as a kitchen hand, a security guard and a taxi driver. Her mother looked after the family before starting her own small business of providing driving lessons.
Inspired by the hard work of her parents when she was younger, Ms Payman became an organiser for the United Workers Union and, after losing her dad to leukaemia in 2018, decided she wanted to represent hard-working Australians like him who strived to make ends meet.
She is passionate about breaking down barriers for women, young people and culturally diverse communities.
“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.
“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.”
A hundred years ago, let alone ten years ago, would this parliament accept a woman choosing a hijab to be elected?Fatima Payman
Senator Payman became emotional as she reflected on the “sacrifices” of her late father in giving her the chance to become a senator.
“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.
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