Senator Fatima Payman has addressed the senate for the first time since her election, urging young girls who decide to wear the hijab to do so with pride.
At 27, Senator Payman has made history by becoming the first hijab-wearing parliamentarian in federal parliament.
“A hundred years ago, let alone ten years ago, would this parliament accept a woman choosing a hijab to be elected?” she said in her address in the Senate.
“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.
“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.”
Payman, a Labor senator from Western Australia, was at times emotional as she talked about her late father, who arrived in Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan.
“I’d like my first gratitude to be expressed to my late forgotten father whose sacrifices will never be forgotten and who I dearly wish was here to see how far his little daughter has come,” she said.
“Who would have thought that a young woman, born in Afghanistan, and the daughter of a refugee, would be standing in this chamber today?”
In a poignant moment, Payman said she sees herself as a symbol of modern Australia.
“I am young, I am progressive, and my family were born overseas. I am a representative of modern Australia,” she said.
“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.”
Senator Payman is due to make her official first speech to the senate in September.