History was made in America on Tuesday night, just not where many first thought it would be. Ilhan Omar became America’s first Somali-American Muslim woman to be elected to Minnesota’s State House of Representatives. Winning the election is a triumph for 34 Omar, who became involved in politics around the age of 14.
In an effort to escape the Somali civil war, Omar and her family moved to the US at the age of 12; having spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp. At 14 years of age, Omar would attend caucuses with her grandfather to act as his translator. In addition to becoming the State Representative for Minnesota, Omar is also the director of policy at Women Organising Women Network – an organisation which works to engage and empower East African women to become engaged citizens.
Speaking about her selection, Omar said “For me, this is my country, this is for my future, for my children’s future and for my grandchildren’s future to make our democracy more vibrant, more inclusive, more accessible and transparent which is going to be useful for all of us.” As State Representative for District 60B in Minnesota, Ilhan has said she will dedicate herself to closing the opportunity gap and advancing an agenda focused on economic, social, racial, and environmental justice.