Ilhan Omar was born on October 4, 1981 in Mogadishu Somalia. At the age of eight she migrated to Kenya due to civil unrest in Somalia. she fled with her She lived in a refugee camp for four years before moving to America. In 1995, she resettled as a refugee in Arlington, Virginia, and later moved to Minneapolis. In the year 2000, she became a US citizen which was the stepping stone to her love for democracy. Her political career began in the year 2012 when she became a campaign manager for Kari Dziodic; the following year she worked for the Minnesota Department of Education, and two years later she served as a senior policy aid for Andrew Johnson. This experience sparked her love for politics and making a positive change in American society.
Ilhan Omar was important because she had many firsts. She is the first Somali- American hijab wearing woman to become a part of congress. Ilhan’s interest in politics began at the age of 14 when she was as an interpreter for her grandfather at local DFL caucuses. Watching neighbors come together to advocate for change at the grassroots level made Ilhan fall in love with the democratic process.
Due to her observance of hijab the head covering ban from 116 years ago was lifted. For her it was not only about changing the law, but also about changing the current narrative of woman who want to run for office. Ilhan Omar has urged for better changes in the USA. She pushed for $15 minimum wage and Medicare for all. She also wants to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). If these changes happen than this will be new for our country and in turn help countless people.
Ilhan Omar’s independence and strength was illustrated by the fact that she did not let anything stand in her way of reaching her dreams. “Things are only complicated only if we want them to be,” Ilhan Omar shares. She proved that it does not matter if you are poor or from a rich family because at the end of the day, we are all are given an equal chance at making a difference. She showed the world that women can do anything regardless of their race, color, or religion and can reach their dreams only if they are willing to. She is a role model to many women and girls across our nation.
There are many who say Islam oppresses women and does not allow them to take on leadership roles in society. Ilhan Omar challenges and shatters those stereotypes. She demonstrates that one can be a refugee, African, observant Muslim, and a patriotic American all at the same time. Interestingly, many who falsely accuse Islam of not providing women opportunities are simultaneously critics of Ilhan. They want to “save” Muslim women, but when someone like Ilhan rises they want to suppress her. Ilhan simultaneously exemplifies the beauty of Islam and American culture. She proudly embraces her religion and values, while also working as a public servant for the betterment of society. America is a beautiful place because it gives everyone, even refugees, the opportunity to rise to some of the most powerful leadership positions.
Most of us can only imagine what it was like to be living in a tent with strangers and wondering if we would have anything to eat the next day. That was Ilhan Omar’s life in a Kenyan refugee tent. While living there she had to go through many struggles, many of which we cannot begin to understand. She is an example of speaking the truth and paving a path towards justice as long as you are fair and honest. Her life is an inspiration for many underrepresented people, especially American Muslim women.