‘’I’ve become more feminist through my faith’’ Zaheda said. Something you may not have expected to hear from a woman who’s wearing a hijab. This 23 year-old from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, spent the first 9 years of her life in Afghanistan but had to flee the country because of the ongoing war. Now, she’s a motivated medicine student who at the same time tries to fight the bias against hijabis. Because what do you think when you see a woman covering her hair? Do you see oppression or freedom?
Zaheda’s story of why she chose to wear a hijab might be one of many women. Initially, she was afraid to wear it and of what people would think of her. Even her father discouraged it because he too was afraid of possible discrimination she’d suffer from. And she does face this discrimination. For example, in her field of medicine, the chances of becoming a surgeon are really quite small for her because the specialization trainers choose the people they want in their team and they tend to want people who fit into the group. People who can ‘’let loose and maybe just take off that headscarf’’. Think about it, how often have you been treated by a doctor who’s wearing a hijab? Luckily, Zaheda wants to go into pediatrics or urgent care so she can avoid the bias, but still it’s sad that it’s happening and it shows the presence Continue reading “Wearing a hijab: ‘’I’m now more concerned about how I act and come across than what I look like.””
You know how your goals sometimes seem unachievable? Like the road ahead of you seems to be endless and long and you’re not sure if you’re willing to hike all the way up to the top? I feel that way sometimes (read: often) and I truly wonder what gear people use to get up there. Cause how can you be at that point while having started completely at the bottom? I was in luck because I had the chance to meet an inspiration, Josephine Kulea, and now I want to share what I’ve learnt with you.
Josephine is a Samburu, Kenyan, born lady whose culture promotes FGM, beading and child marriage (harmful traditions I encourage you to read more about). It is self-evident that these matters should no longer be obfuscated and that we should fight it. Nowadays she does this through her organization Samburu Girls Foundation which has already helped hundreds of girls but she also started small, in her own home Continue reading “Meeting Josephine Kulea: She gives Obama hope!”
Sometimes in life you meet someone who is just a tad more positive. Someone who seems to have a certain strength that makes you look up to this person. A person like this inspired and enriched me with interesting knowledge. Fatuma is her name and she is a very bright young woman who – I firmly believe – will never even consider giving up on others and their rights. I guess you won’t be surprised when I tell you that she wants to specialize in human rights law as well. She does, however, wear a headscarf and is colored, unlike most Dutch people, which changes a few things. Does this mean that she is treated differently? Different than somebody else even though she has undeniable merit? Sadly, yes. The bias-colored glasses strike again against our beloved equality.
Living in the Netherlands, a former dominantly Christian country, is a different experience for someone who doesn’t fit in according to the norm. But, having moved here when she was still very young made it relatively easy for Fatuma to adapt to the Dutch language and culture. Zooming in on her credentials, it’s obvious that she did well and that her Somali and Ethiopian background isn’t holding her back, it might actually have helped her to become this ambitious young fighter she is now. Besides that she’s also very proud of who she is, even if it seems to attract certain types of discrimination. She is, however, not very surprised that she experiences discrimination: ‘’I have the whole package for discrimination. I am a black Muslim woman’’ Fatuma says, and apparently that’s all that someone needs to become subject to Continue reading “”This beautiful melanin that colors my skin doesn’t change the color of my blood.””
This woman, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, is one of my many inspirations. I’ll let her do the talking. Enjoy!