Growing up during the very violent war of Independence that gave birth to Bangladesh, I will always remember that I am alive because of the ultimate sacrifice of over 3 million freedom fighters and the lifelong trauma of over 250,000 women and girls who were brutalized as a tool of war. This lived experience has guided me in all my political activism. I know what it’s like to feel unsafe, like so many of our children impacted by the rampant gun violence we face. I understand how educational opportunity can transform lives, as it did for me when I was able to come here and earn a Ph.D. I know how critical from both a human rights perspective and economic standpoint it is to welcome immigrants. As a Councilmember this worldview will continue to inform my advocacy for all those who have been systematically marginalized and excluded as I stand in solidarity with those in this country who’ve been fighting for justice over 400 years.
• Recognizing gun violence for what it is: a public health epidemic: A public health approach to prevent gun violence is a population level approach that addresses both firearm access and the factors that contribute to and protect from gun violence.
• Making Philadelphia the Healthiest Big City: As a health care leader since our country’s founding, Philadelphia should be a national model for community and mental health.
• Putting the Environment Front and Center: Making Philadelphia a cleaner, greener city will have positive impact on the overall health and strength of our neighborhoods.
I’m running to make Philadelphia a healthier, stronger city. All of our challenges are, at their root, health challenges. From crime and gun violence to housing and the environment, if we make Philadelphia a healthier city, we can make it a stronger, safer city. As a biomedical scientist, I’ve spent my life taking on these kinds of challenges and I’ve used science and data to find new solutions to old problems. If elected to the Philadelphia City Council, I would be the only scientist serving on that body and as well as the only immigrant – these lived experiences bring fresh perspectives to being a public servant. As the only Muslim woman and a women’s advocate with a proven track record of using intersectional lens, I would fight religious bigotry and continue leveling the field for women. But beyond that I bring a compelling personal story which I believe will stand me in good stead to be a strong and compassionate legislator for all of the City’s residents.
When I was Deputy Mayor for Public Engagement my work consisted of bringing many and often diverse perspectives together. The office was a conduit for Philadelphia residents to the Administration and vice versa. Whether it was the Commission on Women, Black Male Engagement or the Office of Youth Engagement, my task was always predicated on a healthy dialogue between the public and those in government responsible for serving them. Such engagement strengthened trust in City Government through direct and sustained engagement which also on my part involved a lot of deep listening. This process is necessary to accomplish anything designed for the common good and must be the basis of any legislative process in a democracy. I will embrace the three “Cs” of cooperation, collaboration and compromise. And I would add to that a fourth “C” for creativity, knowing that when we all work together for to improve our City, we can accomplish great results.