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Fatima Payman, Australia’s First Hijabi Senator Encourages Young Muslim Girls to Wear the Headscarf with Pride

Fatima Payman. Photo:

After making history as the first elected official to wear a hijab in the Australian parliament, Fatima Payman gave a rousing Senate address on July 27.

The 27-year-old, who was born to a refugee family from Afghanistan, is also the youngest serving Senator, the first Afghan-Australian to be elected, and the third youngest Senator in Australian history. In her speech, Payman reflected on her journey to the federal parliament and the country’s progress in embracing its “true diversity.” She said, “A hundred years ago, let alone ten years ago, would this parliament accept a woman choosing a hijab to be elected?”

Payman went on to address the prejudiced, and the girls and women who are affected by them. “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 scarf.”

Senator Payman added that she was a “representative of modern Australia”, being a young, progressive politician born to refugees. “No matter where you are born, no matter which state and territory you are from, no matter what you choose to wear, no matter who you choose to believe in, no matter who you choose to love, know that Australia is a place where you are welcome and that you can be part of a united collective,” she concluded.

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