Issue 284, Friday 28 December 2012 - 14 Safar 1434
Woking girl makes history as first hijab wearer to address Parliament
By Elham Asaad Buaras
Speaking in the House of Commons Maiden Erlegh pupil Sumaiya Karim, 16, became the first woman to wear a hijab while speaking at the despatch box in Parliament. (Photo: UK Parliament)
A Woking schoolgirl made history on November 23 becoming the first woman in the House of Commons 700-year history to wear a hijab while speaking at the despatch box in Parliament. Speaking to The Muslim News Sumaiya Karim said finding out that she was the first hijab wearing Muslim woman to address Parliament was “a privilege and an absolute honour.”
“It was absolutely brilliant and a fantastic experience for all of us,” Wokingham’s Member of Youth Parliament (MYP), said.
The 16-year-old, who led a winning debate in the Chamber, was joined by more than 300 other elected MYPs, who took part in the annual national debate in the House of Commons
The debate was Chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, to decide the UK Youth Parliament’s priority campaign for 2013. The debate focused on the top five issues chosen earlier this year by more than 250,000 young people in the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot.
Karim, who is of Pakistani origin, had been elected by fellow MYPs from the South East region as the debate lead, to propose a motion on the topic of “a curriculum to prepare us for life.”
The national curriculum motion was one of five debated by the UK Youth Parliament and received 154 of the 295 votes cast.
“This was one of the best things I’ve ever done so far in my life, something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. All eyes and ears are on you and talking about something I was very passionate about,” Karim said.
The Maiden Erlegh School Year 12 pupil, who is hoping to study Medicine at university, said: “It’s such an honour [to speak in Parliament] and I’ve been humbled by the response from everyone. I’ve been getting loads of emails and phone calls.
As for inspiring future Muslim parliamentarians Karim said, “I don’t know if we’ll see hijab wearing MPs any time soon but hopefully it will show Muslim girls that there is a place for them in the world of politics and that we can make a difference. You never know where life is going to take you.”
Karim from Lower Earley, opened a debate calling for the curriculum to be overhauled to include wider life skills.
“This is something I feel really passionate about,” she added. “I think it’s really important we address this and it’s the perfect time to do it.
“It’s really important we have access to education and diverse cultures have the same opportunities.
“It’s about engaging young people and getting them involved in these issues and engaging them for later in life.
“A lot of our education makes us the people we are and we are the future.”
The A-Level pupil was applauded at the close of her speech after she asked how her favourite chocolate bar had risen in price from 10p to 20p.