US Midterm Elections – Somali-American Women Bask in Victory

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

The midterm election results have shown that at least seven Somali-American women have won races in the US.

Ilhan Omar, the most prominent Somali American politician, won re-election for her US House of Representatives seat in Minnesota’s 5th district. This will be the third term for Omar, who was first elected in 2018.

In Minnesota state races, Somali immigrant Zaynab Mohamed was elected to the state Senate, becoming the first African American woman elected to the chamber. Meanwhile, Hodan Hassan defended her seat in the state House of Representatives.

Other Somali American women running for offices in Minnesota achieved victory, including Fathia Feerayarre, who won a seat on the Minneapolis school board.

In Maine, Deqa Dhalac, who made history last year as the first Somali American mayor of a US city, South Portland, has now been elected to the State House after handily defeating Republican opponent Michael Dougherty. Mana Abdi, who was running unopposed for a seat representing Lewiston, Maine, joins her in the House.

In Ohio, Munira Abdullahi and Ismail Mohamed, a man, won seats in the state House.

Minnesota and Ohio have the largest Somali American populations in the US.

Speaking to her supporters Tuesday night, Omar highlighted the significance of victories achieved by Somali American women.

“There was a time when we believed that women with a hijab could not get elected,” she said. “Tonight, Minnesota is electing three new women who are wearing hijab. That shows if you trust in yourself, if your people trust you, stand with you, everything is possible.”

Zaynab Mohamed, one of the hijab-wearing Minnesota winners, expressed hope that more Somali Americans will run for office.

I’m very happy with this victory tonight, thank God,” she told VOA Somali. “This is a victory for me, my family, and the Somali people. God willing, many men and women will follow me and come through.”

Shukri Olow, who lost a state House seat outside Seattle, Washington, told VOA Somali that she was inspired to run by the women before her, including Omar, Hassan and Dhalac.

In an interview with VOA Somali, Dhalac confirmed that when she visited

Washington in 2018, Olow asked her questions about running for office.

“She said she wanted to run for the open seats in her area or seats that will be open in the future in Washington State,” Dhalac recounted. “I encouraged her to do it. Many women say we will do this; we will do this tomorrow and next year.

I told her, ” If you want to compete, just do it.”

The success of Somali American women is in stark contrast to the female aspirants for elected office in Somalia.

Female politicians in Somalia are so disenfranchised that male politicians have to allocate a specific quota in parliament. But still, women were never allowed to get the 30% quota promised.

In 2016, Somali women got 24% of the 329 seats in the two houses of parliament. In 2022, female candidates only secured 20%, short of the 30% quota.

The only female candidate who contested the May 15 presidential election,

Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam, got just a single vote — her own.

“I did not get the support I’m sure [Somali American women] are getting when they stand [for office] because here the culture and other factors are causing that people do not get encouragement,” she said.

Comments are closed.