When we look at working muslim women who don the hijab and other forms of covering in various corners of the world, we see that they have the freedom to wear this attire to their workplace with ease. However, there are still those who do not enjoy the same privilege and security. Or they do have the option, but unfortunately receive discrimination in one form or another in the workplace. Some are asked to take it off, some are fired for implementing this decision, and some receive harassment in various degrees, whether verbally or sometimes even physically. But don’t such people know that they are just like everybody else in many ways? Wanting to build the future, some have families to feed, wanting to contribute back to society..
There is a well-known quote that when you educate girls and women, you educate a generation. Through education, you open doors for them to contribute through their own specialties and passions, including in the workplace for those who choose to work outside of their home. This right should be for all, including working muslim women who cover, leaving no one behind. Imagine the additional impact and/or opportunities they can help create.
With the ups and downs of Islamophobia throughout the year 2000s deriving from all the fear-spewing politically-rooted conflicts and with the efforts of peacebuilding and integration while maintaining to not lose one of their self identities, many muslim women still find it difficult to show to those who are wary that wearing the hijab in all its forms will not decrease work productivity, deteriorate the image of their workplace or show that it is a sign of disintegration. What needs to be done is to inform and share to the public that we are all better than prejudice and ignorance and better than social constructs that cause unjust disadvantages for certain groups of people. Get to know a person and you will understand the common grounds. Get to know a covered working muslim woman and you will see a whole new perspective. You will see beyond the veil.
We are a few young muslim women from various corners of the globe, who work not only to earn a living and for self-development, but we also work for causes we care about ,while keeping in style wearing our faith-based symbol with pride! We will continue to participate building a better future for all wherever we go using our own ways. We may be privileged in one way or another, but we want to show what any woman, including covered women, are capable of when you give them the chance to develop. We call for all muslim women who are also learning/have decided to wear the hijab in all its forms to not be afraid to reach their dreams and implement the education that they have received for the good of the many. We also call for everyone in general to push aside stereotypes and prejudice when they see a colleague, neighbour or even a stranger, who may look a little different from them. A person is more complex and interesting than what you read about or see on the internet.
Astrid Damayanti, Graphic Designer at the Digital Media Sector
“I was actually on an academic path to become a scientist. However, life has led me to become a self-taught graphic designer, my new-found passion. I love to recreate people’s insights including mass communication and then turning it into visual graphics that empower people through visual messaging. I’ve been taught to keep struggling for my better future through creative and positive ways as stated in the Qur’an that, “Allah SWT will not change the condition of people until they change what is in themselves”. To dress modestly even at the workplace, gives me more strength and confidence that is a reflection of my life as a whole,”
Medi Kamia Ismanto, Dentist
“Becoming a dentist is a delight in my life. A dentist, and literally a dental-engineer-slash-dental-artist, I tackle many exciting roles and experiences! Being able to interact with various kinds of people while helping to increase society’s dental health is a blessing and honor in my life. Becoming a Muslim and deciding to wear the hijab has certainly made me more confident in carrying out my activities. Being active, in-style, whilst with my hijab on is the perfect way for me.”
Zara Wagner, Pharmacy Assistant at the Healthcare Industry
“For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to become a doctor. I am on my way to reaching this goal. I have always been passionate about helping those in need, and do my best to advocate for those whose voices are not heard. Islam has been a strong motivator for me throughout my healthcare journey thus far, and wearing the hijab is a constant reminder to me to always act compassionately, to see people in a non-judgemental light and to always have faith that things will turn out as they should.”
Zeva Aulia Sudana, Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary at Tropical Landscapes Finance Facility, Co-Chair of Indonesian Youth Diplomacy and Consultant
“I’ve always wanted to become a part of making societies better. An avid generalist, my work experiences involve the nexus of human rights and sustainable development. Having worked for various stakeholders from the grassroots until the UN has opened my conscience more. Wearing the hijab/veil while at it has never been a drawback. I currently work within the Executive Office handling a variety of tasks. Among the issues we cover are green finance, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy. Environmental awareness and the protection of natural resources and animals is an integral part of Islamic beliefs as we are the viceroys on Earth with the responsibility to utilize resources sustainably. I am also involved in pro-bono and consultant work.”
Laksmi Larastiti, Fisheries Program Manager for The Nature Conservancy Indonesia
“To me, protecting oceans is not only securing resources but also ensuring sustainable livelihoods for the coastal community. Many fishermen are uneducated, their wives are unemployed, and they can’t afford to send their kids to school. I need to start making changes as the happiness of fishermen and their family has always been the biggest motivation in my career. Wearing the hijab certainly does not limit me to play a vital role in empowering numerous fishermen communities. Sometimes I can be the only Muslim in the community and wearing the hijab allows me to spread the message that we can still be ourselves and achieve so many things without having to curtail our right as a human and lose our freedom of choice.”
Marwa Abduljawad, Managing Director of Sajmania “Quick Service Restaurant” and Consultant
“Entrepreneurship and social responsibility have always been a passion for me. Today from where I live, I manage my own startup in the field of food & beverage, beside co-managing the family business in the field of marine services and industrial catering. Moreover, with the knowledge and experience I have built, today I am able to work with other women in encouraging and guiding them to have their own startups by providing mentoring and consulting. Being a conservative Muslim and committing to our Islamic traditional attire in Saudi Arabia; have never stopped me from achieving my goals or success, instead it became part of my business look and personality. The limits are never in what we wear; the limits are only in our minds; this is what I believe in”.
What about you? How does your hijab inspire your daily life? We’d love to hear your story!
This article was written by Zeva Aulia Sudana