26 year-old Hadia Tajik has just been elected to parliament as one of the Norwegian Labour Party’s MPs for Oslo for the next governmental term. She is the only parliamentary MP with an immigrant background, and has several political issues she would like to raise. The woman with parents from Pakistan says a lot needs doing.
Drawing the dividing line
Fighting battles on multiple fronts cannot be easy for anyone. Tajik has taken on at least four at once. In no particular order she has an immigrant background, she's a woman, a politician, and an elected official of the Labour (Ap) Party. Some immigrants may expect her to function as a type of Community Liaison Officer, but she is quick to put this aside.
“I cannot be a spokesperson for every immigrant in Norway, as there are so many different people, backgrounds, and interests. I can, however, represent the Labour Party,” she tells The Foreigner.
But like it or not, she has a job ahead of her. Norway is a relatively young country, with a relatively young mentality -- not least regarding immigrants. Only a few immigrants were up for election this year, none of them with a guaranteed seat in parliament.
Immigrants as a whole represent 10.6 percent of the Norwegian population, according to statistics from SSB (Statistics Norway).
If anything is going to change, then she advises both other immigrants and politicians to “wake up and smell the roses”.
“Immigrants must be both politically active, and be members of a political organisation, and politicians must start taking responsibility by drawing up political lists that reflect society”.
She thinks it strange that such a situation can exist in 2009.
Justice and education for all
Two of the key ideas behind a social-democratic system is that everyone shall be given the same opportunities, and be treated similarly.
With a Master’s degree in Human Rights, having worked for the Justice Department, and being political advisor at the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, Tajik wishes to tackle the issue of violent crime.
“Crimes of justice are not just about drugs and street violence. Violent crime that happens at home behind closed doors is mentioned far too seldom,” she says.
She also would like to focus on the Norwegian school system.
“We need good co-educational schools where every child develops basic skills, and has enough challenges.”
And perhaps, should these two core issues for her be successful, there will be more politicians in Parliament with an immigrant background next time around?
“The usual excuse used by, for example, the Conservatives for having few immigrants on their political roll, is that there aren’t enough clever people amongst the immigrant population,” says Tajik.
Another strange situation to have in 2009, thinks the politician from the sixth parliamentary seat.
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