A Woman of The World: Pramila Jayapal

2 years ago / by Team SEEMA
Pramila jayapal
Image credits: Hindustan Times

India-born Re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Pramila Jayapal is a Congresswoman from Washington, DC. Democrat Pramila Jayapal, an Indian-American, beat Republican Craig Keller in the state’s 7th Congressional District by a landslide of 70 percent to 30 percent. She garnered 344,541 votes to Keller’s 61,940, a considerable margin. Keep reading to learn all about Pramila Jayapal.

Who Is Pramila Jayapal?

Pramila Jayapal
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A native of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, Jayapal was raised in New Delhi. In addition to her father being a marketing expert, her mother also happens to be one as well. She was born in Jakarta and raised in Singapore before moving to the United States at the age of 16 to continue her undergraduate education.

Preceding her entry into politics, Pramila worked for the Indian civil rights movement. The pro-immigration advocacy organization OneAmerica was founded after 9/11, and she served as its executive director. For a decade, she was the driving force behind this company. Pramila, like her mother, is an author of many kinds of writing, including poetry and prose. Her 1995 trip to India is chronicled in Pilgrimage: One Woman’s Return to a Changing India.

Childhood Around The World

Pramila jayapal
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Pramila, who was born in Chennai but raised in Jakarta and Singapore as a kid, came to the United States of America at the age of 16 to continue her undergraduate education. In acknowledgment of the incidents of September 11, 2001, she became a civil rights activist and the executive director of OneAmerica, an immigration advocacy organization.

Pramila, the Jayapals’ second child, is the most diminutive of the two. Their elder daughter, Susheela, a lawyer, lives and works in Portland, Ore., at the age of 54. Pramila graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in English literature and economics before going on to the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University for her MBA. She was employed by a Wall Street bank for a short time before turning to activism and eventually politics.

The Jayapals lived in Jakarta for 11 years then Singapore for 13 years before returning to India. Their daughters attended the Jakarta International School before moving to the United States to continue their education when they were 16 and 18.

Personal Life

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When Jayapal gave birth prematurely in India while visiting her husband, she was unable to return in time to preserve her P.R. status and therefore lost her Green Card. In 2000, she was naturalized as a U.S. citizen. In March of 2000, she released Pilgrimage: One Woman’s Return to a Changing India.

Steven R. Williamson, her husband, and Jayapal reside in Seattle. Jayapal’s previous marriage produced a gender non-binary kid named Janak. Michael, her stepson, is also a member of her family. Abortion was selected by Jayapal because of the health risks to her and the unborn child. She wrote this in public in 2019.

After being elected to Multnomah County (Oregon) Commission in 2019, Jayapal’s elder sister Susheela has served on the body.

On January 11th, 2021, Jayapal was found to be positive for COVID-19. After learning of her illness, she issued a statement in which she blasted her fellow Republicans for refusing to wear masks during a lockdown of the United States Capitol in 2021.

Advocacy Work

Pramila jayapal
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At the age of 16, Jayapal left her home in Chennai, India to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She was the very first person in her family to go to college in the United States. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Jayapal set established Hate Free Zone as an advocacy organization for immigrant communities. In addition to voter registration, Hate Free Zone worked for immigration reform and other important causes.

Over 4,000 Somalis were prevented from being deported when a lawsuit against the Bush administration’s Immigration and Naturalization Services was won. In 2008, the organization rebranded as OneAmerica. She resigned as the party’s chair in May of that year, according to Jayapal. The White House named her a “Champion of Change” in 2013.

As part of Women Disobey and the Hart Senate Office Building sit-in on June 29, 2018, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal spoke out against the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy to illegal immigration. Over 500 individuals were arrested as a consequence of the demonstration, including Jayapal. While opposing the Obama administration’s “inhumane and cruel” policies, she was “glad to have been jailed.”

The Legislative Body Of Washington State

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While on the Mayoral Advisory Committee, Jayapal helped negotiate Seattle’s $15 minimum wage and co-chaired the mayor’s police chief search committee, which selected Seattle’s first female police chief with a vote of the council.

Jayapal joined the campaign to replace retiring State Senator Adam Kline in early 2014. The mayor of Seattle, Ed Murray, supported her[10], and she went on to win with almost 51% of the vote in the primary on August 5th against six other candidates. Louis Watanabe, a fellow Democrat, had been her primary opponent, but she prevailed in November.

SB 5863, which authorizes the Washington State Department of Transportation to run a pre-apprenticeship program aimed towards women and people of color, was sponsored by Jayapal in the Washington State Senate and became law in July 2015 with her support. Thousands of police department rape kits would be tested and tracked under a law she co-sponsored.

In 2016, Jayapal supported Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Congress of the United States

Pramila jayapal
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Rep. Jim McDermott announced his retirement in January 2016, prompting Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal to launch her candidacy in Washington’s 7th Congressional District. Bernie Sanders supported her campaign for president in April. On August 2, Jayapal and fellow Democrat Brady Walkinshaw finished first and second, respectively, in the top-two primary.

Two Democrats were running for a federal seat for the first time in the state’s history. These two people described themselves as Democratic progressives. Even if a Republican finished second in the primary, the 7th was almost likely to remain a Democratic stronghold in the Pacific Northwest.

For most of the campaign, Walkinshaw was accusing Jayapal and her allies of failing to push enough legislation. With 56% of the vote, Jayapal was elected to the House of Representatives.


Image credits: Hindustan Times

For most families, tuition at public colleges and universities will be free, and the number of debt students would have to take on will be reduced substantially.

A day after Donald Trump won Georgia by over 200,000 votes, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal voiced her displeasure on January 6, 2017. There was no one else to join her in objecting, therefore it was rejected.

Trump Openness Package, proposed by Jayapal and Representative Jamie Raskin, aims to increase transparency and eliminate disputes of concern in the Trump White House via a series of legislation. There is also environmental justice legislation being proposed by Jayapal and her colleagues in the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force to combat the effects of climate change on frontline communities.

As a cosponsor of the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, she is in favor of universal healthcare and supports it. Jayapal officially become a member of the Justice Democrats on April 16th, 2018.

As opposed to being there at Trump’s inauguration, Jayapal chose to meet with people in her area instead. In the words of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Jayapal is “a rising star in the Democratic caucus,” according to The Nation. After calling her a “young woman” in a viral conversation, Rep. Don Young apologized to her in September. Jayapal has spoken out about being harassed and bullied because of her gender in Congress.

A House resolution criticizing Israeli settlements in the West Bank occupied by Palestinians, which were constructed in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, was voted against by Jayapal. In July of this year, she voted against a resolution in the House that condemned the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanction campaign. The vote was 398 to 17 in favor of the resolution.

Representatives Jayapal and 57 others signed a letter denouncing Holocaust denial in Ukraine and Poland, which was published on April 25th, 2018. However, they condemned two recent laws passed in Poland and Ukraine that celebrate the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and its pro-Nazi commanders like Roman Shukhevych while criminalizing accusations of involvement in the Holocaust.

More than 100 co-sponsors joined Jayapal in introducing the Medicare for All Act of 2019 in February 2019. The measure aims to establish a universal, publicly-financed health insurance system for all Americans. It was an extension of progressives’ long-running effort in Congress to implement a universal health care system.

Jayapal plans to propose similar legislation in the 117th Congress, which will convene in 2021. As a result of the House of Representatives’ decision to end U.S. military assistance for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, she was among the nine lawmakers to approve a letter to President Trump requesting a meeting and urging him to sign “Senate Joint Resolution 7, which invokes the 1973 War Powers Act to end unlicensed U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led coalition’s armed dispute facing Yemen’s Houthi forces, launched in 2015 by Obama officials.”

they said the “Saudi-led coalition’s imposition of an air, land and sea blockade as part of its war against Yemen’s Houthis has proceeded to avoid the unhindered allocation of these essential commodities, making a contribution to the suffering and death of massive numbers of civilians throughout the country” and that by signing the resolution, Trump’s approval would give a “strong signal to the Saudi-led coalition to end the four-year-old war” they argued.

With her election to the House in June, Jayapal made history as the first South Asian American woman to serve in that position.

Earlier this year, Jayapal proposed a measure urging India to remove communications restrictions in Kashmir, which was presented in December. In August 2019, Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked, and as a result, new restrictions were put in place. India’s Foreign Minister canceled a meeting with US legislators later that month due to the inclusion of Jayapal on the guest list. Bill introduction in Congress saw no further action.

John Jayapal supported Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 on MLK Day, January 20th.

Jayapal is in favor of reducing military expenditure in the United States. There were three of her co-sponsors who tried to cut the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Financial Year 2021, but their motion was defeated 93 to 324.

Jess “Chuy” Garca, the author of the New Way Forward Act, is a backer of Jayapal’s demand for immigration reform. In addition, Jayapal backs the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

Fourteen former Jayapal employees told BuzzFeed in September 2021 that the congressional office was tumultuous and chaotic. One individual said, “I’ve worked in unsavory settings previously, and I’ve done so for some really heinous individuals. Some of the worst individuals I’ve worked with have been my coworkers. This is the most awful job I’ve ever had. I’m not even enthusiastic about public service anymore because of it.”

“Women of color are frequently unfairly targeted, routinely held to a much higher standard than their male coworkers, and constantly placed under a sexist microscope,” said Jayapal’s chief of staff Lilah Pomerance in a statement. Pomerance said that the stories were “cherry-picked,” included “ugly stereotypes,” and lacked context in his article on the topic. Pomerance

FAQs About Pramila Jayapal

Is Pramila Jayapal a US citizen?

In the year 2000, she became a citizen of the United States. Pilgrimage: One Woman’s Return to a Changing India, released in March 2000, is her first book.

What nationality is Pramila Jayapal?

Pramila Jayapal is an American diplomat as well as a politician who has been serving as the United States Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district since 2017.

What district does Pramila Jayapal represent?

Member of the Washington Senate from the 37th district

Is Pramila Jayapal married?

Yes. Jayapal and her husband, Steven R. Williamson, reside in Seattle.


We hope you enjoyed this comprehensive bio on Pramila Jayapal and were inspired by her stellar political career and the experience that she gained by being part of many cultures all over the world. To learn more about other notable personalities, keep reading Seema.