Nus Ghani, a Kashmiri-origin parliamentarian in the UK, today became the first female Muslim minister to speak from the British Parliament dispatch box. Ghani, born in Birmingham to parents who migrated from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, was cheered by her colleagues as she addressed the House of Commons as a junior minister in the Department for Transport.
“Made my debut as @transportgovuk Minister and made a bit of history as the first female Muslim Minister to speak from the House of Commons dispatch box,” she tweeted soon after her first Commons outing in her new role.
Dispatch box is the designated place where ministers stand and speak from in the Commons.
The 45-year-old was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Transport by British Prime Minister Theresa May as part of her New Year reshuffle last week.
The Conservative Party MP from Wealden was also given the assistant government whip in the reshuffle to oversee party discipline.
“The roles are both exciting and challenging opportunities… Transport is a subject on which I have campaigned passionately since being elected as the MP for Wealden. Alongside my ministerial duties, I will continue to be a strong voice for Wealden and deliver for my constituents,” Ghani had said in a statement.
The minister in charge of her department, transport secretary Chris Grayling, said Ghani’s promotion proved the Tories “were a party of opportunity”.
“We’re the party to provide…the first Muslim woman minister to speak from the government dispatch box – the member for Wealden. I congratulate her – I’m very proud to sit alongside her,” he said.
Ghani worked for charities such as Age UK and Breakthrough Breast Cancer as well as the BBC World Service before first standing as a Conservative Party candidate in Birmingham in the 2010 general election.
In 2015, she became the first Conservative party Muslim female candidate to be elected to Parliament.
After the June 2017 snap election, she made history after she repeated her oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II in Urdu when she was sworn into Parliament.
“My motivation is simple. My parents are incredibly proud that I have been elected to serve as MP and I wanted to honour my mother by speaking in a language she understands and my mother tongue,” she had said at the time.
Soon after she was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the UK Home Office. Her rapid rise in May’s government is seen as part of the British PM’s declared aim of moving away from an all-white middle-aged male Cabinet.