Despite these challenges, Safiya was on the honor roll of her high school, ran track, and graduated from college with an Associate Degree in Business Administration. A decade after arriving in the USA, this intrepid woman has taken steps on a journey few have attempted, let alone on which to have claimed success.
In November 2018, the Hon. Safiya Wazir was elected as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, making her the first Muslim woman and one of the few refugees to be sworn into that august body. This is an accomplishment she, and other women in her home country, could not have imagined.
Safiya ran in a district of Concord, in a state that is 94% white with some new immigrants, although with very few Muslims or Afghans. She was encouraged to consider running for office by people she had met through her work on children’s issues, including Head Start, where Safiya pushed for all-day kindergarten in Concord, and by others who appreciated her energy and passion. “Having somebody young, new blood in the system, I think it would be really helpful for all, from seniors to immigrants and refugees. That really gives a new perspective,” said Safiya.
After she filed to run for office, Safiya received a lot of support and encouragement from the New Hampshire Young Democrats and from residents of her district of all ages and ethnicities. Many, young and old, came out to knock on doors for her. Safiya’s husband and parents looked after her children while she canvassed door-to-door with friends and supporters. Soon, her family was also accompanying her. People from more than 20 states reached out to her with support upon hearing of her bid for office, and she also received encouragement from some in other countries.
Safiya’s supporters and her family were ecstatic upon learning of her election victory, which was all the more impressive as she defeated a four-term incumbent Democrat and veteran politician in the primary, and a Republican in the election. She also overcame much negative and ill-informed opposition to her campaign.
Running on a platform of education, affordable and accessible health care, paid family leave, Medicaid expansion, and equal housing opportunities, seemed to resonate with the voters. Safiya could speak from experience, being a mother of three, having worked at Walmart and Goodwill, serving on the Board of Directors of the Community Action Program, and as Vice-Chairwoman of the Head Start Policy Council.
Safiya was the people's choice and is intent on serving her constituents. "I work hard, and I’ll be the voice of everyone in my district,” she says.
As a member of the Boston Jamat, Safiya has inspired many in her community in Concord and around the country, as well as Ismailis everywhere, by her commitment, tenacity, and desire to serve.