From a humble Facebook group to a global phenomenon, Manal Rostom's movement is going offline for the first time.
Ever since humanity existed, women have found themselves at a disadvantage no matter where they stand in society; rich or poor; overweight or thin; hijabi or not. Free choice for women is a fight that hasn't really made significant headway except in the past couple of centuries. But as we fight to liberate women from the restrictions of tradition and religion, we often forget that some women don't necessarily seek to be liberated from religious practices such as Hijab. In fact, many Muslim women wholeheartedly choose to embrace their Hijab and find that they end up in the same situation as those that don't - being forced by society into so-called 'liberation', AKA ditching Hijab, but isn't that just another side of oppression against women?
Launched in 2014, Surviving Hijab is an initiative founded by prominent Egyptian athlete and mountaineer Manal Rostom, who's also the first ever Hijabi Nike brand ambassador. Rostom grew up in Alexandria before moving to the UAE as a child. Hijabi and religious, she quickly found out that she, like non-Hijabis, has to endure a lot of questioning of her choice to cover her hair. She had to deal with widespread misconceptions that frame Hijabis as backward, illiberal, oppressed and generally 'not cool'.
Starting as a Facebook group, Surviving Hijab quickly garnered a huge fan base and became a platform for oppressed Hijabi women to voice their stories and empower each other to stand their ground against a society that never seems to just let women be. Hundreds of thousands of members later, the group transformed into a global initiative, making Rostom a face for the Hijabi struggle everywhere.
For the very first time, Surviving Hijab is hosting an offline event in the heart of Downtown Cairo at The Greek Campus, on July 19th. Featuring Rostom as well as prominent Hijabi celebrities and influencers, including the likes of Sara Sabry, Isra Shaker, Marwa Hassan and Doaa Farouk, the summit comes in a partnership between Surviving Hijab and Facebook, who in 2018 recognised the group among the top 100 most influential Facebook groups in the world.
With panel discussions, Q&As, and even beauty and makeup tips for Hijabis, the event is set to be the first of its kind, bridging the gap between women of all walks of life, Hijabis or otherwise. Make sure to check it out this July 19th.