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Tan France and Skin Whitening: The Stigma of Darker Skin Tones

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Skin lightening

“Queer Eye” star Tan France has revealed that he bleached his skin when he was 9 years old because he wanted to appear “as non-Asian as possible”. The fashion icon said that he thought of his skin color every day and was constantly worried “what trouble” it would get him in. France’s concerns were very real and they likely sprouted from years of verbal abuse and discrimination. 

Racism subjects people to inferior treatment by other races, however colorism leads people even within the same race to negatively treat others based on their skin tone. Children are often taught from a young age that fair skin is pretty while darker skin is dirty or ugly and this prejudiced line of thinking tends to persist as children grow older. There have been several studies proving biased treatment against people with darker skin tones in schools, workplaces, and even courts. The notion that people with lighter skin are simply better than those with darker skin likely originated in ancient times. In ancient societies having lighter skin was a symbol of wealth and power because it showed that you didn’t have to work outside to make a living. Colonial rule by fair-skinned nations in the 20th century reinforced the belief that those with lighter skin held more power and influence than those with darker skin. In the modern age this prejudiced view on skin tones is mostly upheld by advertisements and the entertainment industry.
The skin lightening industry earns billions of dollars each year despite the proven dangers of whitening creams and bleaches. This industry does not care about the physical, mental, or emotional harm done by their products and advertising. They are only looking to make a profit, even if that profit is generated by upholding colorism in society and preying on people’s insecurities. The first step in dismantling this colorist hierarchy in society is recognizing discrimination based on skin tone and speaking up against it. Only then can we build a truly compassionate and united world in which all people are treated fairly regardless of outer appearance.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Saira is a Muslim American with a passion for writing, economics, and justice.  With a background as a UC Berkeley graduate with a bachelors in economics allows her to quantitatively analyze critical developments from around the globe as well as their long term impacts on financial systems and social welfare. She is dedicated to reporting in an investigative, honest and compassionate manner to give voice to those who need it most.

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Politics

Albanian Prime Minister expressed discontent over membership delays for the European Union

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On June 23rd, the leaders of the European Union had a meeting with six Western Balkan Countries. These countries, consisting of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia, have all applied to become part of the EU for years now. 

This time they met to further their integration into the EU. 

The meeting took place amidst tensions between the countries, as Bulgaria’s veto on accession talk with North Macedonia.Bulgaria refuses to recognize Macedonia as a separate country and this veto also put Albanian negotiations on hold. 

Before the summit took place the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, criticised EU leader for their delay. 

“You are a mess guys, you are a big mess and you are a disgrace and I think it’s a shame that a NATO country kidnaps two other NATO countries while in the backyard of Europe there is a hot war and of course, it’s not good to see that 26 other countries sit still in a scary show of impotence,” Rama said.

This frustration came to be due to the long wait of being able to join the European Union. The longest-standing nation dates back to 2005, when North Macedonia applied for EU membership. 

While the Western Balkan country has been applying and waiting for years now, countries like Ukraine and Moldovia are moving in record speed to be granted the candidate status. Which furthers the frustration Western Balkans leaders feel. 

The German Chancellor Olaf Scholz responded:

“The most important [thing] is that the states from Western Balkans will have a good opportunity to become really members of the European Union,” adding “they’ve worked so hard, so it’s our common task this something that will happen.”

Bulgaria seemed to make progress until their opposition appeared to be wanting to advance with opening accession negotiations. Despite the hope it did not further any progress, due to dispute in the parliament. 

The Bulgarian Prime Minister called the opposition leader “most dishonest person I know.”

The European Council President Charles Michel stated that he was watching the development in Bulgaria closely and that starting the negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia were his top priority. 

By the end of the meeting Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama posted on Twitter:

“Nice place nice people nice words nice pictures and just imagine how much nicer could be if nice promises were followed by nice delivery. 
But we Albanians are not as nice as to give up nicely! So, we will keep going and working even harder to make Albania a nice EU member”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Exclusive: John Pilger claims Julian Assange extradition is bad news for “truth-tellers”

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We spoke to veteran investigative journalist and documentarian John Pilger about what he thought Assange’s looming extradition meant for the state of the press in the UK, and the fate investigative journalists like him

Julian Assange –  the investigative journalist and whistleblower spent the last ten years fighting for freedom after having leaked secret documents regarding US human rights abuses. Most of those years were spent holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain where he was granted asylum by the President of Ecuador Rafael Correa in 2012. 

That asylum ended seven years later when Correa’s replacement, Lenin Moreno handed him over to the British authorities. On the morning of April 11th, 2019, Assange was dragged out of the embassy by British police in a brutal show of force, and taken to be locked up in Belmarsh prison, the detention centre known as the British Guantanamo Bay. He has remained there since.

Last week, Assange’s decade long battle was dealt a blow. British Home Secretary Priti Patel signed Assange’s extradition order to the United States, where he faces 18 federal counts of espionage for publishing secret state documents handed to him by the former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning; documents which exposed the atrocities, human rights abuses and war crimes committed by The United States, its allies, and their forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. 

Besides this, the documents showed the systematic human rights abuses and torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, the controversial U.S Prison located in Cuba that held more than 150 prisoners, who were innocent without charge for years. And most of all, they confirmed that the pretext for the U.S led invasion of Iraq was a farce.

But in a country that lauds itself on its free press, especially when holding up its democratic values against its autocratic Middle-Eastern counterparts, what happens when a journalist exercises his right within the free press and is castigated the way Assange has been and for as long as he has?

“There is no free press as we might imagine or mythologise it. A powerful, almost unconscious self-censorship routinely dominates the media, much of it run or influenced by an augmented extremism called Murdochism. Added to this are draconian laws that constrain our right to know and which allow the ‘intelligence services’ (known in the US as the ‘deep state’) to manipulate the press. Little of this is discussed publicly.”

According to Pilger, it was Julian Assange who “broke down this wall of censorship, on the public’s behalf.” It is no surprise then, that the whistleblower, Manning was pardoned by the US after seven years in prison, while the publisher could face confinement for the rest of his life. Currently, Assange faces up to ten years in prison for each federal count against him. But Assange is an Australian national, and just recently the former foreign minister of Australia, Bobb Carr, wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald that he believed that the Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, should request the Biden administration for Assange’s freedom.

Pilger affirms that the Australian government should support their citizen, but that “rights and reality live in two different worlds. We should unite them!” 

Despite Carr’s suggestion, Australian Prime Minister publicly affirmed he stood by his previous remarks that Assange had “paid a big price for the publication of the information already” and that “I do not see what purpose is served by the ongoing pursuit of Mr Assange,”  but that he would not publicly ask Biden for a pardon for Assange. Speaking to the broadcaster Sky News, he said “We’re not going to conduct diplomacy by megaphone.” 

But what is it that makes such prominent world leaders so reluctant to directly support the plight of Assange?  For some it is the fact that he published secret state documents through his whistleblower site, Wikileaks. Was this really a violation of the official secret act, as has been alleged, or does the right of the public to know what governments are doing abroad with taxpayers money negate this? Is the country not put at risk when state secrets are made public?

“Wikileaks revealed grave state crimes,” he says, “The law should apply to governments as well as to individuals. Nazi leaders and officials were prosecuted and punished at the end of World War Two because they committed state crimes. The principle is the same.”

If Julian Assange’s team fails in its attempts to appeal and he is sent to the US, what will that entail for him? And what implications will it have on future whistleblowers and investigative journalists?

John Pilger is blunt. “For Julian it will be the end of his life. For truth-tellers, it will mean even greater risk than at present. The shadows of state control will spread until we call, ‘’stop.’

In fact, the veteran journalist is no stranger to censorship of his own work either. In 2014 his regular column for the oft-touted ‘independent’ paper the Guardian was axed, according to Pilger, “Without explanation.”

“I wrote a fortnightly piece for the Guardian which was axed in 2014 with the specious explanation that the paper ‘needed greater variety’: some such nonsense. There were (and are) warring political factions on the Guardian and under a new editor a virulent right-wing took control. At that time, I was writing about the Western-sponsored coup in Ukraine, which had just happened, and the war it beckoned.”

It is a grim state of affairs to which the future of journalism seems to be hurtling towards, painted darker by recent events. What hope does that leave to budding journalists who would wish to pursue a career like that of Pilger’s and other investigative journalists and whistleblowers, like Assange, who in their fearlessness can speak truth and expose the crimes and excesses of those in power? How can the fear of reprisal by the authorities be abated?“Keep going. Be resolute and follow your star. The times are difficult, but there are more independent outlets,online, than when I began. Try and stay away from the mis-named ‘mainstream’ which used to have space for independent minded journalists, but no more. Journalism is a wonderful craft: how it is practised and honoured is up to you.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

From witch-hunting to testimonies: Gambia’s transition to democracy 

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52nd Independence Anniversary Celebrations and Inauguration of His Excellency Mr. Adama Barrow President of the Republic of The Gambia Saturday 18th February 2017 scaled

Transitioning to a democracy can be a difficult move particularly for a country that has experienced a violent past. For 22 years the Gambia was ruled by President Yahya Jammeh, known for human rights abuses, gender-based violence, harassment, torture and in particular, witch hunts, but was finally toppled by Adama Barrow in 2016. 

Witch hunting started in 2009 when President Jammeh claimed that the cause of his aunt’s death was witchcraft. As a result, several witch hunts took place throughout the country. Those who were suspected of witchcraft were forced into detention centres where they would be stripped naked and beaten until they would confess that they had carried out murders using witchcraft. Additionally, they were forced to drink a herbal concoction which caused many to fall sick and some to even die. The elderly who were mostly suspected of witchcraft faced the worst of the beatings.

However, it was not just witch hunting that defined Jammeh’s leadership. Human rights abuses, the lack of freedom of press and harassment of political opponents shaped a significant amount of his leadership. Deyda Hydara, editor of the daily The Point newspaper, had previously spoken up against the dictatorial regime. In 2004 Hydara was killed in a drive by shooting. Despite many pointing their fingers at Jammeh, he denied any link to the murder of the respected journalist. But in 2019 as part of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), Malick Jatta, a member of the Junglers – a death squad known to have done the ‘dirtiest work’ for the former President – confessed to Hydara’s murder at the behest of Jammeh.

When the former President lost the 2016 election to Adama Barrow, a property developer who achieved a 45.5% majority compared to Jammeh’s 36.7% Jammeh refused to accept the result. However, he was forced into exile to Equatorial Guinea. 

Adama Barrow’s win has been a turning point for the Gambia. He was the first President to start the country’s transition to democracy and freedom after Jammeh. Barrow was a favourite and was easily re-elected in December 2021 with a 53% majority. Under his Presidency, Barrow established the TRRC and hearings began in January 2019. It was set up to seek justice and a sense of peace for the victims of Yahya Jammeh. The commission included a large number of testimonies with hundreds of victims and perpetrators stating their personal accounts on what had taken place under the 22 years of the dictatorship. 

Alongside the TRRC,, the UN has supported 2,000 victims through the Victim Participation Support Fund. The fund provides ‘psychosocial support and essential medical interventions’. Furthermore, approximately 30 people who testified during the TRRC were provided with witness protection. The TRRC concluded on 28thMay 2021 and was a way to close the door on Gambia’s traumatic past. Despite the conclusion of the commission, many Gambians to this day live in fear as the reward promised for those who confessed to crimes under Jammeh and who were previously part of the Junglers, was release from jail. This decision not only stops victims achieving justice but also gives them a life where they will continually live in fear. Many of Jammeh’s ‘henchmen’ remain in positions of authority in the Gambia including in the army, the Government and the national intelligence service ensuring victims remain uneasy. Yahya Jammeh may have left and lost his power over the Gambia, but the harsh impact of his rule still lingers within many people today.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

World Food Programme suspends food assistance to 1.7 million in South Sudan

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Conflict combined with poor weather in South Sudan has led to 7.74 million people facing a hunger crisis.

Despite the country facing food insecurity, the World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended food assistance to 1.7 million people in South Sudan. They require $426 million to be able to feed 6 million people in South Sudan throughout 2022. At the start of 2022, the WFP projected that it would be able to assist 6.2 million people in the country but has failed at achieving this target. This suspension of funding comes at one of the worst times for South Sudan, a newly independent country which not only has been facing internal conflicts for many years but also faced three years of flooding, a localised drought and like the rest of the world, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and soaring global food prices. Therefore, not only is food not available in the country, but it also comes at a much higher price making the country food insecure. This cut also comes at a time where South Sudan is facing lean season, which is the season between planting crops and harvesting them. During this season, food is already scarce.

The suspension of aid by the WFP is due to a funding shortage of $426 million. It is important to note that the primary source of WFP’s funding comes from governments around the world. This funding is entirely voluntary, meaning that the countries have the freedom to cut anytime they wish.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a human rights group recently ruled that the world’s 10 most neglected crises are all in Africa with South Sudan being the 4th most neglected crisis. The Secretary General of the NRC, Jan Egeland said “The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the immense gap between what is possible when the international community rallies behind a crisis, and the daily reality for millions of people suffering in silence within these crises on the African continent that the world has chosen to ignore,”

The hunger crisis the people of South Sudan face is not new, rather food insecurity has been a challenge for years now. In 2017, South Sudan faced a famine and now another famine is predicted by the WFP this year if funding is not organised. Furthermore, South Sudan has recently been facing unrest which has only intensified the issue, leading to brutal violence upon civilians, including targeted attacks, gender-based violence, kidnappings and murders. This has led to nearly 2.3 million people fleeing to neighbouring countries whilst 1.87 million people remain internally displaced. Displacement continues to exacerbate the hunger crisis in South Sudan as many rely on food from their own land, something which is not possible during displacement. Internal conflict has thus meant that people have had to rely heavily on food assistance.

There have been many attempts for a peace agreement in the country, but so far, all these attempts have failed.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Environment

The world is ageing at a rapid pace and there will be consequences

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World and Aging Hands

There are more old people in the world than there are young people. Both developed and developing countries have to be ready to take the huge burden of the rising population of older people.

According to 2019 data from the UN, the proportion of people aged 60 and over will be 1 in 6 by the year 2050. However, a more recent observation by the WHO shows that the world might reach these statistics much sooner; that is, by 2030. And by 2050, the population of over 60 will double to almost 2.1 billion people.

This demographic change has already occurred in some developed countries. In Japan, the median age is 48 years old, and this makes Japan’s population the oldest in the world. By 2060, there will be one elderly person for each person of working age.

Similarly, there are already more people aged 60 and over in Europe and North America than young people under the age of 15. Germany is another example. It is predicted that by 2050 the population of the income-generating population will fall from 55 million to less than 40 million.

The change is greatest in developed countries because of low mortality rates as well as low fertility rates. This means new children are not being born while the healthcare of the country is improving, so people and children live longer.

The data for the population of the world in 2020 already shows that the population aged 65 and older is 727 million, whereas the population under 5 is 677 million.

There are many consequences of this change. The biggest is the increase in the dependent population, which will affect the economy of the country. Most people over the age of 60 are retired, so they depend on pensions while the younger income-generating population is responsible for providing the money through taxes. The taxes will need to increase to meet the demands of the older generation. Not only that, the government has to spend more money on the older generation who don’t earn on their own rather than invest in developing the country.

There will also be a rise in chronic illnesses which will affect the allocation of healthcare facilities as right now there is more focus on infectious diseases. Since there will be an increase in the older generation, there will be even less informal care from the remaining younger family members. Elderly abuse is already an issue, but there will be a rise in this form of abuse as well.

Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said, “There will be very few children and lots of people over the age of 65, and that makes it very difficult to sustain global society.”

Adding, “Think of all the profound social and economic consequences for a society with more grandparents than grandchildren.”

For many reasons, in America, most women are staying child-free or having children later in life. The biggest reason is the expense required to raise children. Since 2007, the birth rate for women in their 20s has fallen by 28%, shows data.

Similarly, in England and Wales, the percentage of women in their 30s without children rose from 18% in 1975 to 50% in 2020.

Unless more work is done to replace the population and prevent population shrinkage by encouraging people to have more children, the economies of many countries need to prepare for a boost from the older population.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Women's Issues

10 Successful Muslim Women Who Wear The Hijab

For centuries, successful Muslim women have pioneered systems and institutions while wearing the hijab, and they still do so today.

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The Hijab, or the Muslim head covering is always met with hostility and scrutiny. Oppression and illiteracy is what it represents, according to the common stereotype against it. But successful Muslim women around the world are smashing those tropes!  

For centuries, successful Muslim women have pioneered systems and institutions while practicing their faith-prescribed veils. For example, the first ever university was built by a Hijab wearing woman, Fatima al-Fihri, in Fez, Morocco.

For many successful Muslim women the Hijab isn’t an obstacle in their paths, but it is the veil which keeps them safe as they break the proverbial glass ceiling. In fact, many Hijabi Muslim women who have made it to the height of their success continue to speak passionately about protecting the rights of Muslim women everywhere who choose to wear it in schools and workplaces. 

Here are 10 of those women changing the world.

Nusrat Sharif, Pfizer Senior Scientist

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Muslim Hijabi scientist, Nusrat Sharif, works as a Senior Scientist at Pfizer 

Towards the end of 2020, after the height of the pandemic, the release of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine seemed to be just the light we needed to return back to a normal life. Working with Pfizer as an inflammation & immunology specialist, a Muslim Hijabi scientist, Nusrat Sharif, serves as a Senior Scientist. 

In aiding the world with her research, her Hijab has never caused her to perform less successfully than her peers — nor has her performance ever declined because of her choice to wear a Hijab.

In a one-on-one interview with AnalystNews, Sharif, who topped her class in her PhD program, said: “I think the Hijab empowers me everyday to be a strong leader”.

Upon moving to the United States from India, Sharif went to visit many university campuses to decide on her higher education. She recalls one of the male students on campus yelling to her as she took a tour: “Take off your Hijab!” She says that in the heat of the moment, the only response that registered in her mind was to yell back was: “Never!”

She knew there and then that if people would try to make the Hijab a challenge for her, she would conquer it.

Sharif described her interview process with Pfizer, saying, “He [the director] was so impressed that a Muslim woman in a Hijab came so far.” She then had the opportunity to explain to him the true meaning of her religious garment.

Sharif had been working at Pfizer for some time, when she had an encounter with a new colleague who was an Arab Muslim woman. The woman told Sharif: “You can’t survive in a corporate world in purdah (veiling)”. The stereotypes around Hijabs not only impact societal perception of Muslim women, but the perception of Muslim women about themselves.

Sharif realised that not only did her Hijab dispel myths for non-Muslims, but it could also re-empower Muslim women who feel distraught when they have to pick between two identities (corporate vs religious). Her identity shows that you can be both, but more importantly, be great at both.

About the nature of the French Hijab ban, she says it has the opposite effect on trying to create equality in society. She also says forcing the Hijab makes no sense either. “Extremists on both sides are not good. Muslim women should have the freedom to decide that they want to do.”

Khola Hübsch, Journalist

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Khola Hübsch on a German political talk show

A common misconception about the Hijab is that it prevents Muslim women from being free to communicate and make public appearances. But for Khola Hübsch, a German journalist, her Hijab actually helped her succeed in her career. The Hijab never got in the way of her success — in fact, she is most often known as the face of Muslim women in Germany, and that could be accredited to how her Hijab has made her visible.

For her, the Hijab never impeded on the quality of her education either. Khola feels that in many instances, her choice to wear a Hijab was guided by her Islamic faith. For some women, it is not just about opportunities, but the freedom to practice their faith. Keeping that choice for Muslim women is essential.

Munazza Alam, Astronomer

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Munazza Alam giving a presentation for National Geographic Education

One such example is a National Geographic Young Explorer, and renowned astronomer, Munazza Alam. The Harvard Graduate has worked on projects like the observation of atmosphere on exoplanets. It means she gets to work closely with large teams, and advanced equipment like the Hubble Space Telescope, one of the world’s most versatile telescopes. 

In an interview, while commenting on her Hijab, Alam says, “I have operated telescopes at national observatories, presented at conferences, and met with Nobel Prize winners in my full purdah [veiling] in venues all over the world.

“I do not shake hands with men and I have found this practice to be especially effective for setting a physical boundary from the start with the non-related men I meet. I have met some people who believe that doing purdah or refusing handshakes might disadvantage women from opportunities in their careers, but I have not found this to be the case in my experience. I have never felt that doing purdah has hindered my ability to be a professional scientist in any way. In fact, many people have told me that they admire my courage and respect me more for doing purdah even though it sets me apart in professional settings.”

Throughout her education and practice, the Hijab has served as a mark that sets her apart from her colleagues, and is something she is admired for, thanks to the acceptance of those around her.

“We live in a world today in which society is moving toward being more inclusive of people from all different backgrounds, which includes Muslim representation in STEM and other fields. Moreover, we have a right to dress in our purdah as Muslim women and discrimination against it is illegal. We should not be afraid to show the world who we are.” 

The challenges she faces don’t come from the Hijab itself, but by bullying and discrimination because she chooses to wear it. Alam shared with Carnegie Science that, “Once I visited an institute to give a research seminar and at the end of the talk, I was approached by a faculty member who harassed me about my headscarf.” The situation was later settled, with the woman understanding why her reaction was uncalled for. But the Hijab itself never became a factor that dimmed the light of Munazza Alam.

Nusrat Haq, Lawyer

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Purdah has always been a part of my outward image”

Muslim women have also successfully ventured deep into the field of law, proving that their Hijab does not get in the way of pursuing prestigious fields. Oxford alumni, Nusrat Haq graduated with a degree in law and now practices Corporate Law in Melbourne, Australia. While sharing her thoughts in an interview, Haq said that, “At the end of the day, purdah [veiling] doesn’t hold you back from anything in my view.”

“Having started purdah in my early teens, it feels as though purdah has always been a part of my outward image. Perhaps that brings with it a sense of confidence in wearing purdah, but I consider the ease with which I view purdah to be another one of the more fortunate aspects of my life.

Personally, I see purdah as one of the easiest forms of religious compliance. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s just the ease that comes with it. At university, I just put on my niqab and coat and run out of the door to the library or lectures!”

For most successful Muslim women, the support that they receive in their decision to wear the Hijab, from their peers and colleagues is ultimately what helps them on the journey of success.

Asked whether she faced and difficulties because of the hijab, she said:

“No, I haven’t faced any challenges at work or work events due to purdah and I’d echo my comments from your earlier question. There is so much awareness and training given to people at work these days, hiring and senior managers in particular, that I think it’s easier than ever for Muslim women to participate in the workforce and work events. It’s well understood that, ultimately, it’s to the employer’s benefit to ensure an inclusive workplace.”

Ayesha Noor Rashid, Entrepreneur

For some successful Muslim women, like Ayesha Noor Rashid, the Hijab is not just a tool of self-empowerment, but also a way to empower others. Rashid runs a small business, Equal Entrance, where she sells scarves, among other apparel, with quotes meant to give the wearer a boost of empowerment.

She says about the Hijab ban in France that, “Muslim women will either be forced to let go of their values or will gradually vanish away behind the closed doors of their homes.” But as a Hijabi herself, she believes Muslim women breaking the barriers is important because “representation matters.” To change the outlook of a whole new generation, Hijabi women must not be afraid of rising to the top because of what society makes them believe.

Amnah Khan, Bone Cancer Researcher

Amnah Khan, a bone cancer researcher, has had experiences with the Hijab where she feels as though the Hijab never got in her way. She has pioneered a method of bone cancer treatment that aims to use products found in insects to age the cancer cells and allow them to die naturally. 

Khan says that the results are promising, for a future where bone cancer becomes easier to treat once identified. Her motivation for her work comes from Islam itself, and while adorning the veil, she has been met with many great opportunities, thanks to how accepting everyone around her has been.

Ilhan Omar, Politician

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Ilhan Omar is the first Hijabi woman in the U.S Congress. Credit: Fibonacci Blue

Breaking through barriers as the first Hijabi woman in the United States congress, Ilhan Omar says that her Hijab allows her to be a representation for her faith. In an interview with Vogue Arabia, she said, “To me, the hijab means power, liberation, beauty, and resistance.” To her, it is a celebration, not a form of oppression.

For women of all walks of life, and for Muslim women whose choices are often taken control of by society, Omar says, “We are deserving and we don’t need permission or an invitation to exist and to step into our power.”

Maria Mensah, Construction Designer Manager

Muslim women not only breakthrough in the maths, sciences and laws, but they’ve also made a mark in construction. From the Islamic Golden Age, Queen Amina of Zaria is known for building the fortified walls that protected her country (current day Nigeria) from danger. 

Maria Mensah pursues another field of construction — creative design — that allows her to bring uniqueness to urban buildings, while wearing the Hijab. Mensah has always felt as though her Hijab added to her recognisability in the industry, helping propel her forward instead of drag her back.

She says: “At University, I had the room to grow based on the Islamic principles I wanted to live by but had found difficult to adopt earlier. I also saw University as a test run to the ‘adult’ world and I am glad that I made the decision to go with it. Wearing the hijab was a constant reminder that I am an Ahmadi Muslim and therefore needed to behave like it. It helped me a lot to navigate the university social life and have fun while sticking to my principles.”

Her latest project is working on the Marylebone Square in London, England.

Raffia Arshad, Court Judge

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The first Hijab-wearing judge in the United Kingdom – Credit: St. Mary’s Family Law Chambers

Raffia Arshad made headlines when she became the first Hijab-wearing judge in the United Kingdom. That barrier she broke was for all the Hijabi women who society has convinced that their Hijab could not allow them to attain success.

She says, “I decided that I was going to wear my headscarf because for me it’s so important to accept the person for who they are and if I had to become a different person to pursue my profession, it’s not something I wanted.” There is nothing Hijabi women need to change about themselves, but instead it is society that needs to change its perceptions on them.

Amani Al Hosani, Nuclear Scientist

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Photo Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA

A United Arab Emirates nuclear scientist, Amani Al Hosani, achieved everything that she did while wearing the Hijab. But her status as a Hijabi never stood in the way of her status as an asset for her nation. 

Her slogan to dream big carried her to great heights, and the Hijab always served as her rope forward and never as something that tied her down. 

In a society that is quickly evolving, successful Muslim women have pioneered many advancements themselves. But one thing that is leaving society stuck in the past is the judgment it is so quick to pass on women who choose to have control over what they wear.

The Hijab, to successful Muslim women globally, is a symbol of their commitment to their God and to their religion.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

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