Women’s History Month Spotlight: Nadia Hasan

Our Women’s History Month spotlight series continues with Beaverton City Councilor, Nadia Hasan. A true advocate for working families and equal access to quality education, Nadia shared with us who inspired her journey into politics and the steps we need to take to get more women of color into spaces where policy is being written:

It is a known fact that we have too few women involved in federal, state, and local politics. How do you recommend we begin to counter this trend so more women of color have a voice when policy is being written and executed?

As a South Asian-American woman, culturally, I was taught to stay quiet and avoid taking space. This is counter to what politics actually is – taking up space. I think we need to have a dramatic mindshift in order to encourage women of color to be in the room and sit at the table where decisions are being made and take up space. In addition to that, we need allies to make sure when we take space, we are heard. I’ve been successful at taking up space but sometimes, I am the lone voice advocating. 

When I walk into rooms, I would sit in the back. Now, I sit in the front. When I want to say something, I would hesitate. Now, I speak up. When I see something wrong, I would struggle to say something. Now I try to stand up – often this is very very hard, and can come at a very big cost. We need to know our power as women of color to say our voice and our opinions matter. And when we feel comfortable and confident in saying that, we need to say that policies must be written in partnership with us. As the saying goes, "nothing about us without us."

And lastly, we need to lift each other up. I have seen white feminism become complicated and ugly. When we are in positions of power, we must find ways to work together – we are always better together.

Equal Pay Day took place a few days ago and there still seems to be a lot of work left to ensure all women are being fairly compensated. As a Human Resources professional who works for a large organization and now also has a hand in creating policy, how do you envision corporations and local governments working together to close the gender pay gap? 

We are seeing a positive move in the legislation across the country around pay transparency but that’s simply not enough. It isn’t stopping people from asking for more (or less) or devaluing their own experience when providing compensation requirements. Corporations and local government should partner to strive for pay transparency and more specifically create programs that funnel individuals to get training and support so they can be successful in the workplace. 

This year’s Women’s History Month theme is "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” Is there a particular woman who inspired your journey into local politics? 

My mom, my aunts and my grandmother – I come from aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins who raised me. I believe, wholeheartedly, that the collective community that raised my sisters, cousins, and I, worked together to ensure that our family had a bright future. We had many privileges but our community was by far the glue that held us together. I believe our elders are the women who inspire us daily.