This Tuesday, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali American legislator, winning a seat in the Minnesota House.
Omar directs policy at the Women Organizing Women Network, a group that encourages East African women to pursue civic leadership positions. An immigrant from Somalia who proudly wears the hijab, she escaped the Somali civil war at eight years old and spent the following four years in a Kenyan refugee camp until she was accepted into the United States.
Her victory in Minneapolis’ House District 60B was a big win, taking home 80 percent of the vote.
Now, Omar is a woman who has stood in the face of adversity and become a role model for both Somali-Americans and Muslim women. Her victory is a testament to Minnesota’s future, representing “what it means to be a Minnesotan,” according to House Minority Leader Paul Thissen.
Omar believes her representation in lawmaking will change people’s perspective on the political process. She is thrilled “to be able to be on the ground at the Capitol representing the diverse people of my district and being a champion with them and for them.” Omar believes that her political career will make American democracy more vibrant, inclusive, accessible and transparent, which is good for all Americans.