Australian Senator Becomes First Elected Representative to Wear Hijab in Parliament

Australia’s first elected representative to wear a hijab encouraged young girls who choose to wear the headdress to “do it with pride” during her first address to the country’s Senate on Wednesday, July 27.

Fatima Payman, who is a senator for West Australia, used a reply to Governor General David Hurley’s opening speech to the Australian parliament to address her position as the first Afghan-born and hijab-wearing elected representative in the history of the chambers.

Payman said: “For those who choose to advise me about what I should wear or judge my competency based on my external experience, know that the hijab is my choice.”

The 27-year-old senator continued: “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 scarf.”

Payman will give her official maiden speech to the Senate in September. Credit: ParlView via Storyful

Video transcript

FATIMA PAYMAN: A Hundred years ago, let alone 10 years ago, would this parliament have been as accepting? A hundred years ago, let alone 10 years ago, would this parliament accept a woman choosing a hijab to be elected? I will have more about this to say in my first speech in September. But for those who choose to advise me about what I should wear or judge my competency based on my external experience, know that the hijab is my choice.

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 booties and flip-flops across the street. I don't expect people to judge me for wearing my scarf. A hundred years ago, let alone 10 years ago, would this parliament have been as accepting? A hundred years ago, let alone 10 years ago, would this parliament accept a woman choosing a hijab to be elected?

I will have more about this to say in my first speech in September. But for those who choose to advise me about what I should wear or judge my competency based on my external experience, know that the hijab is my choice. 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 boards and flip-flops across the street. I don't expect people to judge me for wearing my scarf.

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