LONDON: People in more than 150 countries celebrated World Hijab Day with events designed to counter hijabophobia through raised awareness and improved education about the traditional Muslim head covering.
The headline event hosted by the World Hijab Day organization, which is based in New York, was its annual online conference, which featured speakers from 12 countries — Egypt, the US, the UK, Syria, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Canada and Mexico — who presented their diverse perspectives on the issue.
“This year, we’ve collaborated with impactful partners like the New York Police Department to raise awareness about the significance of the hijab,” organizers told Arab News.
“The topics vary, reflecting the evolving discussions aligned with the changing world. Additionally, we’re enhancing transparency by teaming up with Launchgood (a crowdfunding platform with a particular focus on the global Muslim community) to raise funds, ensuring organizational growth for more impactful initiatives and events compared to previous years.
“This year’s edition of World Hijab Day aims to empower and inspire individuals through the theme #VeiledInStrength. By fostering a sense of resilience and confidence, we aim to challenge stereotypes and promote a deeper understanding of the strength inherent in those who choose to wear the hijab.”
World Hijab Day, which is celebrated on Feb. 1 each year, was founded in New York by Bangladeshi American Nazma Khan in 2013 with the aim of recognizing the millions of Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab and live a life of modesty.
The organization said common myths and ill-informed attitudes about the hijab include “misconceptions about Muslim women’s agency, intelligence or perceived oppression.”
It added: “Challenges arise in various spheres, such as the workplace or educational institutions, where bias may impact opportunities.
“This year, a noticeable trend is the increased interest from workplaces, particularly in Europe, in celebrating World Hijab Day, (and) the growing participation from this region indicates a shift toward greater inclusivity and acknowledgment of the significance of cultural diversity in professional settings.”
As perceptions and views about Muslim women have started to change in recent years and Islamic countries are increasingly opening up to the world, increased awareness and education provided by initiatives such as World Hijab Day, contribute to “dispelling stereotypes (and) fostering greater understanding,” the organization said.
“Organizations, including those advocating for Muslim women’s rights, are adapting to changing times by leveraging social media, organizing inclusive events, and collaborating with diverse communities to further raise awareness and promote a positive narrative.”
For this year’s event, World Hijab Day said it was placing a particular focus on hosting workshops on Muslim culture at educational institutions and workplaces, with the aim of addressing Islamophobia and helping to foster “an environment of safety within schools and workplaces for both Muslim students and professionals.”
The organization added: “Muslim hijabi women contribute significantly to various aspects of life, including the educational sector, political sector, medical sector, law enforcement and many other sectors. AFP
Please visit our website London Institute of Peace Research for latest peace news