State Senator Aisha Wahab is 1st Afghan American woman elected to office in the nation

State Senator Aisha Wahab was the 1st Afghan American woman to be elected to office in the country back in 2018. Her political career began on the Hayward City Council. Since 2022, she’s been serving as a state Senator representing the Bay Area’s District 10. 

Raised in the East Bay, Wahab said she was always encouraged by her father to serve her community. She was a guest speaker at a dinner event for Carpenter Local 713 members on Thursday night.

"My father was very big on community service. So, anything that we could do, since we were kids, I was the one who was doing blanket drives during winter for refugees and for Afghans in Afghanistan. So, I’ve always sort of had that spirit of community service," said Wahab. 

Born in New York City, Wahab says she and her sister spent time in foster care before being adopted by a couple in the Bay Area. She says listening to people in Hayward and her own family talk about rising rent costs and other issues, moved her to run for Hayward City Council. 

"You name it, we worked on it. People say you can’t do it because you don’t have that much time, or it’s four years. You’re supposed to go slow. No, it’s actually whoever’s in that seat, can push the agenda, can push the policy reforms," said Wahab. 

Wahab said women in general tend to focus on issues that directly impact people’s lives. Menlo College Political Science Professor Melissa Michelson also said women now have more support when running for political office.

"More and more women are being backed up by organizations and groups that say ‘Hey, we want to support you to run’ because one of the things we know is that men nominate themselves, but women tend to have to be recruited and asked," said Michelson. 

Wahab said she too was recruited to run for a state Senate seat. As March primary voting results are still being counted, analysts predict that for the first time in California history, 53% of the Senate may be comprised of women.

"It’s about time. Even though we have more and more women running for office, we still see that the issues we care about aren’t necessarily always addressed and that’s a problem too," said Wahab.  

Wahab said even in a progressive state like California, women still face pay and racial inequalities and hopes that women of all backgrounds have a voice in the political arena.  

"But we as the most progressive state in the nation, still don’t have a female governor. We have better odds this coming round and we’ll see far more women run for the governor’s spot, but at the same time, we still don’t have it," said Wahab. 

In the South Bay, the board of supervisors in Santa Clara County could also have a four-to-one majority of women this November. Wahab said she’ll continue to advocate for the state’s most vulnerable people.


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