The Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), joined the rest of the world in over 140 countries to mark the World Hijab Day today the 1st of February, 2020 under the theme “Unity in Diversity.”. The essence was to make even the Non-Muslim women to experience the Hijab.
Indeed, it is expected to promote understanding, solidarity and acceptance among Muslim and Non-Muslim women globally.
FOMWAN used the occasion to reflect on the situation of Muslim women and girls in Nigeria within the context of the theme of the World Hijab Day, and to opined that Muslim women and girls in Nigeria have consistently denied their right to wear the hijab in accordance with their religious teachings.
” The persistent ban on the use of the hijab by female students in some secondary schools especially in South-West Nigeria, during Secondary School examinations and in in some workplaces in Nigeria is not only a flagrant abuse of the rights of female Muslims to freedom of worship, it also has far-reaching implications for national development in Nigeria. It negates the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goal number five (SDG 5). Sustainable Development Goal no. 5 which seeks “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” While this sustainable development goal 5 expects “to end discrimination against women and girls everywhere”, it is rather unfortunate that the denial of the use of hijab by women and girls in some quarters in Nigeria has only aggravated discrimination against Muslim women and girls in Nigeria. Innocent school girls and qualified women in some work places have been intimidated, derided and subjected to psychological trauma just because they wear the hijab in compliance with their religious teachings”.FOMWAN stated.
FOMWAN therefore called on the National Assembly to institute laws that support and facilitate compliance to the constitutional provision on freedom of religious worship all over Nigeria as protection for Muslim women and girls.
The association said that the current discrimination against the female Muslim population in Nigeria has shut the gates for many girls to education, and deprived Muslim women from opportunities to advance their careers and explore opportunities outside their homes,And It has also sidelined Muslim women from participation in national development, thus countering inclusiveness.
“Adorning the hijab by all Muslim women and girls is a mandatory injunction by Allah in Quran Chapter 24 verses 24, whether they are in school or at work:
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.”FOMWAN added.
To mark the World Hijab Day 2020, FOMWAN embarked on series of activities at the National level & in all the 36 States & the FCT to create awareness about the hijab.
FOMWAN also reached out to people of other faith in its programming for the day to promote interfaith collaboration on an issue that has created controversy in recent times. The day was kickstarted with participation on a Radio Nigeria Network News program by the FOMWAN National Amirah Halima Jibril with the co-chair, global women of faith Network, Rev Sister Agatha Chikelue.
All FOMWAN State chapters & the FCT marked the day with lectures, symposia, hijab display & in some states, in collaboration with their Christian counterparts.
FOMWAN also urged all interfaith platforms in Nigeria to interface on the issue of the hijab and come together to quell the rising controversy.
FOMWAN commended the Body of Benchers and the Management of the Nigerian Law School for the opportunity for Muslim girls to graduate in their hijabs which has further encourage more girls to take to the law profession.
The association then called on the Armed Forces and other professional bodies in Nigeria to provide a level playing ground for all to join these professions irrespective of religion or tribe