TIME Minnesota

Minnesota Elects First Somali-American Female Legislator

US-VOTE-ELECTION
STEPHEN MATUREN—AFP/Getty Images Ilhan Omar, a candidate for State Representative for District 60B in Minnesota, gives an acceptance speech on election night, November 8, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“For me, this is my country, this is for my future, for my children’s future and for my grandchildren’s future"

Although the U.S. did not elect its first female president Tuesday night, one woman still made history.

Former refugee Ilhan Omar, who proudly wears the hijab, became America’s first Somali-American Muslim woman legislator after she claimed a strong victory in the Minnesota House race.

The 34-year-old moved to the U.S. at the age of 12, after four years living in a Kenyan refugee camp following her escape from the Somali civil war, the Star Tribune reports. As well as her political duties, she is director of policy at Women Organizing Women Network—a group that aims to empower all women, particularly first and second generation immigrants, to become engaged citizens and community leaders.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen told the Tribune that Omar’s victory “says something important about the future of Minnesota, and what it means to be a Minnesotan.”

Speaking to The Guardian earlier this year, Omar said she believed her representation could change how people see the political process. “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,” she said.
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