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world hijab day

OU recognizes World Hijab Day virtually

On Feb. 1, Ohio University will recognize World Hijab Day with an educational social media campaign, using the hashtag #WorldHijabDayOHIO. Throughout the day, discussions of women’s experiences with hijab and Islamophobia will be hosted on both Instagram and Twitter.

The event was organized through a collaboration of the Women’s Center, International Student and Faculty Services, International Student Union and the Office of Global Affairs.

While World Hijab Day is an internationally recognized day that is centered around fostering religious tolerance and learning about the struggles of women who chose to wear a hijab, OU has expanded the focus of its events over the years.

Last year, OU sought to showcase diverse experiences women have regarding their choice to wear — or not to wear — a hijab.

“We wanted to highlight the discrimination women are facing because of their choices, either to choose to wear the hijab in western countries and the United States, or to choose not to wear it back home in their countries, and how they are facing discrimination, and sometimes violence, because of their decisions,” Habiba Abdelaal, graduate assistant at OU’s Women’s Center, said.

In the past, OU’s recognition of World Hijab Day has involved a physical element of inviting non-hijabi women to try wearing a hijab. This acted as a display of solidarity and an opportunity to understand the biases hijabi women face on a daily basis.

Diane Cahill, director of OU’s International Student and Faculty Services, felt that wearing a hijab in solidarity was eye-opening.

“It was a really neat experience,” Cahill said. “I've only done it once, and once was enough for me to learn a lot about what it feels like. Not only what it feels like with people looking at you, or questioning you with their eyes, but also the feeling that I had, as a person wearing a hijab.”

However, due to safety concerns regarding the pandemic, the decision was made to host OU’s World Hijab Day entirely online, eliminating the typical hijab-wearing opportunity this year.

“We didn't want to lose sight or ignore the fact that this day still needed to be celebrated,” Cahill said. “We just needed to find a way that made it safe for everyone.”

OU organizers hope that the virtual nature of the event will allow for a wider audience reach.

“A social media campaign does allow for wide participation and having reach that in-person events don't necessarily enable us to do,” Geneva Murray, director of OU’s Women's Center, said. “We're really excited for the broader engagement and the opportunity to do so.”

To spread publicity about OU’s World Hijab Day social media campaign, the Women’s Center has been utilizing its co-curricular guide as well as word of mouth. Recognizing the email fatigue people are experiencing as a side effect of the pandemic, the Center decided not to utilize email communications heavily.

Jorden Milliken, a senior studying psychology and sociology-criminology, was made aware of OU’s World Hijab Day recognition through social media posts and email forums by Ohio University. She values the mission of the event and plans on participating.

“I believe that educating our peers on diversity and discrimination is so important to the inclusion of everyone on our campus,” Milliken said in a message. “I definitely plan to participate because it is our job as inhabitants of this campus to make it as inviting and inclusive as possible for all people.”

While recognition of World Hijab Day is one way OU strives to promote inclusive dialogues and cross-cultural understanding, it is not the only event with this purpose. Murray encourages World Hijab Day participants to continue the conversation beyond Feb. 1.

“We want people to recognize that it's not just about World Hijab Day; there are lots of opportunities through our co-sponsoring organizations like ISU, ISFS, Office of Global Affairs, as well as the Women's Center, that can provide opportunities for people to really think about their intercultural knowledge and understanding,” Murray said. “We really do encourage people to continue the conversation beyond just this day, and to think about the lived experiences of women around the world.”

@isabelnissley

in566119@ohio.edu

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