ILHAN OMAR: From Refugee camp to US Congress

When I think of a Boss Lady in 2019, I think of Ilhan Omar. Omar echoes Lupita Nyongo’s Oscar speech when she said

“No matter where you come from your dreams are valid”.

Ilhan Omar took this to heart as she began her campaign to the House of Representatives in the US Congress. She is now known as Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, but her journey to Congress has been something of a dream.

Omar is a Somali native, who was a refugee in Kenya before she relocated to the United States. She was recently elected to the US Congress in a historic fashion.

She is the first East African (Somali) woman as well as the first of two Muslim women elected to the House. The US House of Representatives today is comprised of Boss Ladies who have worked their way to the top.

Ilhan Omar’s story stands out because of her resilience and compassion as she introduces new bills on the US House floor.

THE BEGINNING

Ilhan Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in October 1982. She grew up in Somalia until the civil war when she and her family were forced to flee the ongoing civil unrest.

Omar spent four years living in extreme poverty at the Dadaab refugee camp in Garissa, Kenya. She and her family overcame obstacles and were able to relocate to the US after securing asylum in 1995.

She was raised in the United States from the age of 12. Her upbringing in the United States sparked her interest in politics. Omar shares stories of her youth when she went to political meetings with her father and saw the lack of female leaders in the political sphere.

She went on to study political science at North Dakota State University. Her studies of politics gave her the tools needed to embark on the journey to becoming a political pioneer in 2019.

THE BUILD UP

If you have been following Ilhan Omar’s story, you will quickly realize that she is an outspoken politician.

Her journey to the US Congress is a buildup of courage in the face of opposition to anything that goes against the status quo. Being that Omar is a Muslim immigrant, she is considered a threat because of her identity.

Omar’s political stance on many issues, especially immigration comes from her experience as an immigrant. She once said in an interview…

“For me as an immigrant, who didn’t speak the language, when I had struggled as a kid, my dad would say: Once you are able to communicate with people, they are able to connect with you beyond your otherness…”

Omar’s ability to connect with the fellow immigrant who may be struggling with their new environment struck me as a compassionate quality. She understands the immigration issues and can give a voice to the concerns of the immigrant population in the national conversations happening in the US Congress.

BOSSING UP

Although many people may not see Ilhan Omar as a “boss lady”, she has made some big moves in her career thus far.

She was the Director of Policy Initiatives for the Women Organizing Women Network, based in Minnesota USA, where she was advocating for East African women to take initiative in civic and political leadership roles.

According to the WOWN website, the purpose of the organization is to “Empower all women, particularly first and second-generation immigrants to become engaged citizens and community leaders regardless of political affiliation”.

The WOW Network seeks to encourage Diaspora women to engage in civic conversations that bring light to the issues that immigrants face in the United States. From the role as director of this network, she was able to gain the confidence to launch her campaign for office in the United States Congress.

The boss lady emerged as she fought hard to win a seat in the House of Representatives. She was elected to the US Congress in 2018.


This month of July, we’re telling stories about boss ladies breaking boundaries, and how you also can hit your #BossLadyGoals



WEBINAR WITH ABOSEDE GEORGE-OGAN: THE RISE OF WOMEN IN POLITICS (MAY 30)

For as long as we’ve known, politics has been viewed as ‘a big boys thing’ and not for women. Well, guess what world? It’s time to take a step back because ladies wanna play too! From leading political organisations to being at the centre of political movements across the continent, women are increasingly taking charge of the political platform. Admirable examples of #MotherlandMoguls in politics include Bostwana’s 29- year old, Bogolo Joy Kenewendo, who was recently appointed as Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry and Nigeria’s Ms. Rinsola Abiola, President of the APC Young Women Forum (amongst other titles) – the list goes on! But let’s be honest! Even though there has been a rise in the number of women in legislatures across the continent, more work still needs to be done to integrate women into ‘political governance’. That being said, ladies get in formation…let’s talk about building a fulfilling political career!! To learn more, join us on Wednesday, May 30th for a webinar with Abosede George – Ogan, who is the Chief Facilitator of Women In Politics NG, as well as the Director, Strategy, Partnerships and Stakeholder Management at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund. Abosede will be sharing useful nuggets on what it takes to build a successful career in politics. Kick start your career in politics with @abosedea on May 30th at 11 AM WAT! Click here for more: http://bit.ly/BoseOgan #WomenInPolitics Click To Tweet

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Why you should be interested in politics
  • The building blocks to pursuing a career in politics
  • Types of jobs available in the field of politics
  • Advice on how to build a successful political career

Webinar Details:

  • Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2018
  • Time: 11AM Lagos // 12PM Johannesburg // 1PM Nairobi
  • Location: Register below to get access to this opportunity

Watch here:

About Adebose

Abosede George-Ogan is a tri-sector leader with over 14 years’ experience working across the non-profit, private and public sector as a development professional. She is the Chief Facilitator at Women In Politics NG, an online platform that seeks to engage, encourage, equip and empower women especially young women to get involved and participate in politics in Nigeria. In addition to this, Abosede is currently the Director, Strategy, Partnerships and Stakeholder Management at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund. Abosede began her career in development over a decade ago with ActionAid International Nigeria. From here, she moved on to lead Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Citizenship for Keystone Bank, FirstBank and Samsung Electronics West Africa respectively. Likewise, Ms. George-Ogan has a degree in Political Science/Public Administration from Igbinedion University and an MSc in Communication for Innovation and Development from the University of Reading.   She is also the author of the recently launched book, “Building a Conscious Career: How to build a fulfilling and financially rewarding career”. For more information about the book, you can visit www.consciouscareer.com.ng.