NSW MP Charishma Kaliyanda Proudly Showcased Her Heritage As She Was Sworn Into Parliament

Women, and particularly women of colour, are largely underrepresented in Australian politics. When NSW MP Charishma Kaliyanda was officially sworn into the state’s 58th parliament this week, she chose to proudly represent her culture through her attire.

The Labor member for Liverpool, which is in Sydney’s south-west, wore a Mysore silk sari that featured various shades of blue (to align with the NSW colours), contrasting a stunning gold border. She also gave a nod to the state’s floral emblem by pinning a Waratah brooch on the front.

Sharing some photos of the special moment on her Instagram account, Kaliyanda explained why she wore a traditional Indian outfit for her first day on the job.

“I’m honoured to represent my amazing community of Liverpool, and can’t wait to raise our challenges and celebrate our wins in this Parliament!” she wrote.

“The colours I wear today represent the official colours of NSW and I wear a Mysore silk sari, made in Karnataka (where I was born!). I wear my sari in the Kodava style to honour my family heritage. Can you spot the Waratah brooch!”

Kaliyanda has been a Labor councillor in Liverpool since 2016, and is Liverpool’s newly elected member of parliament . She was born in India and migrated to Australia with her family in the early 90s. When I previously spoke to her about representation in politics for an article I wrote for Refinery29 Australia, she said the “biggest challenge people of colour face in politics is lack of institutional knowledge and access.”

“We often don’t have generations of family members who have been members of a political party that can enable us to access information, networks and opportunities,” she said.

“This can be compounded for women of colour who may also encounter challenges from within their communities. Women often don’t occupy leadership positions within their cultural or religious organisations, and may have to deal with ideals and stereotypes around how they should behave and what is and isn’t appropriate.”

Here’s hoping women like Kaliyanda can continue to pave the way for more women of colour, including South Asian women, to pursue a career in politics.

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