Ruwa Romman: An Inspiring Muslim woman ran for office in Georgia

ruwa romman an inspiring muslim woman ran for office in georgia
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Publié le 31 mai 2022, par Samir | 16 h 23 min
Temps de lecture : 8 minutes

Rowa Romman, Community leader and organizer, became the first Muslim woman that had run for office in Georgia. Not only did she run, but the proud Georgian woman won the primary for Georgia’s 97th State House District, The Story Exchange reported. She won both counties and held a 318 vote lead (56-44).

Ruwa campaigned to run for the first Muslim candidate in Georgia’s State House. Born in Jordan and granddaughter to Palestinian refugees, she moved to Georgia along with her parents at the age of 7. Seeking scholarships, she attended education at Oglethorpe University and secured her Master’s in Public Policy from Georgetown University.

Ruwa Romman: An Inspiring Muslim woman ran for office in Georgia

According to Ballotpedia, « Ruwa Romman (Democratic Party) is running for election to the Georgia House of Representatives to represent District 97. She is on the ballot in the general election on November 8, 2022. She advanced from the Democratic primary on May 24, 2022. »

For over ten years, she kept working for community empowerment and made efforts to bring their voices to government levels. Ruwa also strived to build Georgia’s first and only Muslim civil rights organization. She worked to remove the Muslim Ban and created a draft and a bill for the No Ban Act. Ruwa also contributed to building the Georgia Volunteer Hub to provide training to Georgia national volunteers, among her other achievements. Besides, she helped connect them to different organizations in Georgia.

Earlier, Ruwa served as a Field Organizer for the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, where she worked as Communications Director for CAIR Georgia. That job role offered her hope and a route to dream for a blue Georgia before anyone believed it.

Ruwa Romman ran to bring public service into politics and aimed to strive for a bright future by supporting fully-funded education and creating more access to healthcare.

Furthermore, she worked to minimize the economic opportunity space and secure the fundamental right to vote.

Georgia’s elections have been capturing national highlights since 2018, when the then-Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, had a historic victory over Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate. He had been charged with halting the process multiple times and once approved a law that created several issues for Georgia voters.

Education and Healthcare

Witnessing this scenario very closely brought Romman to advocacy, and she ended up providing consultations and communication assignments for many political outreach businesses. Later, as her district redrew due to several controversial district reassignments, she had to take up the task of running for it.

Besides voter rights, Ruwa’s campaign aimed to work for education and healthcare, crucial matters in Georgia. This country stands 30th globally in educational status and 49th in healthcare. Georgia’s ranking stands the same for climate change as the area is sensitive to floods and droughts.

Numerous organizations like Georgia Working Families Party, Fair Fight, the Asian-American Advocacy Fund, and officials nationwide endorsed Romman, which would be considerable support for her JT Wu. It was her childhood nonprofit. Besides, Romman had planned out many goals if the May 24 election or November 4th couldn’t go in her favor. One of the key goals was to channel the voting right of fellow Georgian Muslims.

It was because, in either case, what mattered most to her was her candidacy to the voters.

« We have a place in this world. »

« For a long time, I pushed my parents to register to vote and then to vote. To see them and their enthusiasm [grow] over time, like many of our community, who were historically excluded and never saw themselves in this space – I was excited about it, » Ruwa said. « If nothing else, I would prove we have a place in this world. »

Ruwa took to Instagram.

Ruwa shared this enthralling news on her personal Instagram and encouraged her followers to pull a Democratic ballot. She posted:

« Y’all, today was surreal. We had so many events, but I wanted to pause because I saw my name on a ballot. I actually got to vote for myself!

@shahzaibjiwani and my neighbors joined, which made it that much more special. As a Muslim woman in Georgia, I never dared dream of a day like this until @yaqooberz ran. She set the foundation for so much of our community’s growth in this space. I’ll forever be grateful to her for it. »

Ruwa continued, « Please vote early. There were no lines, and the staff was so kind. If you have any questions or run into issues, please reach out. Voting is an incredibly important tool, one of many we can use to build the kind of community we all deserve.

P.S. Please pull a Democratic Ballot. I know many want to influence the Republican ticket, but we have so many Democrats on the ballot this year. We need to pick the best ones and show that Georgia needs the investment.”

Georgetown Institute of Politics & Public Service (@GUPolitics) sent out a hearty wish to Ruwa for her excellent victory.

“We want to send a HUGE congratulations to @RuwaRomman for winning the Democratic Primary election for Georgia’s state House of Representatives District 97! It’s so exciting to see our student leaders continue in public service. We wish you the best of luck in November!”

Rev. Rob Lee (@roblee4) also expressed his joyful feelings and tweeted:

“In a world deeply broken, we need heroes who can turn the tide. I am proud to report my best friend @RuwaRomman won her primary in a solidly blue district in Georgia. She is on her way to becoming the first Muslim woman in the Georgia State House. You’re the best, Ruwa.”

Joseph Johnson (@JoeEdJohnson) took to Twitter and said:

“So happy to see that my friend @RuwaRomman won her primary for the 97th Georgia House Representative District. Cannot wait to see what the future holds for her!”

Leftists 4 Office (@Leftists4Office) shared the big news:

“Looking at the vote totals, it appears progressive Ruwa Romman has won the primary for Georgia’s 97th State House District. Ruwa won both counties and held a 318 vote lead (56-44). Congrats to RuwaRomman and her campaign.”

Islam ran for Congress in Georgia’s Seventh District.

Two years ago, Nabilah Islam ran for Congress in Georgia’s Seventh District, including Gwinnett County near Atlanta. It was an open seat.

Islam, 30, said, “We need a candidate that energizes the base and expands the electorate and gets people from the community to get out and vote. I think a lot of people don’t vote because people think they don’t see themselves in their candidate.”

Islam, 30, said that she didn’t see any elected officials or candidates at the protest she attended. “I think it’s very important that we’re present with people on the ground. I think the status quo isn’t working when a leading cause of death for young black men is police encounters in this country,” she said.

Where was the world’s first democratically elected Muslim woman from?

The answer is Georgia, and that woman was Peri-Khan Sofieva. Originating from Karajala, she became the first Muslim woman to stand and win office democratically. Although not much is known about Sofieva except her signature and her grave, her story sheds light on Georgia’s lofty promises and gruesome losses in the early 20th century.

In 1918, Georgia ran on an experimental journey in a modern democracy. During the First World War and Russian Revolution, it declared its independence as the Democratic Republic of Georgia and established a social and multi-ethnic country. The newly independent state held local elections to offer democratic accountability on the grassroots level before anything else.

Historian Khvadagiani narrates, “The top politicians thought that a real democratic state is built from a base of villages. That ‘Village Society’ is the key point in the political system. If there is a problem in the village and if democracy is low, if the political culture is low, then there is no basis for building a real and good democratic society.” His organization Sov Lab worked for the research work on Soviet history in Georgia.

The archive collections revealed that Sofieva independently ran in the 1918 elections against Georgia’s national political parties. “Her victory shows how much influence and authority she must have had in her village. This appears to be unique. When you look at the picture, you see what an important person she must have been to the whole community that they gave their votes to her – a woman, Khvadagiani recalled.

According to Eurasianet, “Universal suffrage in 1918 was not unique to Georgia. Women voted in and were elected to the abortive constitutional assembly in post-imperial Russia, while New Zealand granted women the vote back in 1893. But Georgia was one of the very few places with a sizeable Muslim community where women could vote. Neighboring Azerbaijan, which also declared its independence in 1918, was the first majority Muslim-majority country to declare universal suffrage. Still, no women were elected to its parliament after elections in December 1918. Georgia also elected five women and three Muslim men to its parliament in 1919, a year after the local elections.”

Khvadagiani further notes, “It is therefore almost sure that Sofieva was the first Muslim woman to be elected formally anywhere. Of course, many Muslim women have wielded vast political power, ruling entire empires (Sofieva herself was probably named after the great Safavid princess, poet, and politician Peri-Khan Khanum), and some were likely elected in less formalized ways. But Sofieva’s case represents the first time a Muslim woman ran in a modern election – complete with ballot boxes, party lists, and formal campaigns – and won.

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