Ilhan Omar - The First Somali American U.S Congresswoman

Born in Somalia, Omar's early start was one of conflict and struggle.

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Ilhan Omar, now 37, has become the first elected Somali-American woman elected to Congress. A Democrat, Omar has pledged to protect women and refugees in her new role.


Born in Somalia, Omar's early start was one of conflict and struggle. With her family, she fled from Somalia at 8-years-old to escape the country's civil war. From there, along with her family, she spent 4 years in a refugee camp in Kenya.


Her family, eventually moved to Minneapolis, United States, where they made a home for themselves.


Omar's love for politics began at the tender age of 14. She became an interpreter for her grandfather in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). It was there that she witnessed the power of grassroots change-making, forming her passion for the democratic party. Her earlier experiences caused her to, eventually join the Democratic party.





Whilst studying at Edison High School in Minneapolis, she made the decision to become an organizer. Following this, at the University of Minnesota, she worked as a community educator.


Simultaneously, she has been an activist for the DFL party for years. She also has "Humphrey Policy Fellow and "Senior Policy Aide" in her work history too. Through these positions, she supported working-class families, improved access to quality education for her community and brought attention to the scourge of racial inequality, as well as environmental issues.


In 2015, Omar became the Director of Policy and Initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network. An organization that advocates for East African women to have civic and political leadership opportunities.


Omar has also worked as a policy analyst, non-profit leader, public speaker, youth mentor, and is a board member of various non-profit organizations.


Eventually, all her hard work paid off - in 2016 she became the first Somali-American-Muslim legislator in the U.S. It was here that her energetic, grassroots campaign was said to have increased voter turnout by 37%.


Her most recent accomplishment being her election to the United States House of Representatives. Somali-Americans, Muslims and women alike have been celebrating her victory, with many claiming that it signifies a hopeful shift in attitudes towards Islam and refugees.


Her advocacy hasn't gone unnoticed. Omar has been given an array of awards. Some of which include the "Commitment to Service Award", "Olga Zoltai Award", "Champion of Change Award", "Citizen of the Year Award" and "The Jeanne and Joseph Sullivan Award".


Omar's political positions fall with the Democratic party. She has been labeled a "progressive" by showing her support for a higher federal minimum wage, free tuition for low-income families.


She has three children with her husband, Ahmed Hirsi, and they live in Minneapolis. Ilhan Omar's win has been declared as a win for refugees, working-class women, women of color and Muslims all over the world.


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