Who Started Muslim Women's Day? This "Muslim Girl" Founder's Making Sure It Goes Viral In 2018, Too
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 marks the second annual Muslim Women's Day, a day meant to celebrate Muslim women and amplify their voices. As people come together in celebration of Muslim women, you may be wondering who started Muslim Women's Day and how the idea for the event came to fruition. As it turns out, an online publication and organization known as Muslim Girl created the event in order to ensure that Muslim women's voices are heard — and that they are better represented and respected in the media.
Back in March 2017, Bustle interviewed Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the founder of Muslim Girl, after she launched the first-ever Muslim Women's Day at the end of Women's History Month. Al-Khatahtbeh told Bustle that she was inspired to create the day because she felt that the need for amplifying Muslim women's voices was so urgent — "It seemed natural and necessary to create an occasion like Muslim Women's Day for this Women's History Month."
We're on the heels of widespread conversations surrounding the Muslim Ban and even the women's movement, and it comes at a time when Muslim women are being increasingly targeted for their practice. Muslim Women's Day is a positive response to this critical moment by celebrating a marginalized community that needs the public support right now.
Al-Khatahtbeh echoed similar sentiments when announcing the first-ever Muslim Women's Day on Muslim Girl's website in March 2017.
This day is all about centering Muslim women's stories and voices. We call upon our allies to pass the mic to Muslim women by elevating their narratives online for the day. ... We think it's important to elevate Muslim women's voices, especially in this moment. ... [I]t's time to hear from a community that's often talked about but rarely given the chance to speak. In the age of social media and the internet, we're only one click away from changing that.
While this year's Muslim Women's Day will similarly focus on lifting Muslim's women's voices, it also has a specific theme: "Muslim Women Talk Back to Violence." The day will focus on highlighting Muslim women's responses to violence against the Muslim community which has, unfortunately, been rampant in recent years. For example, the number of assaults against Muslims in the United States rose substantially between 2015 and 2016, as there were 127 reported victims of aggravated or simple assault in 2016. This number is even higher than what the Pew Research Center describes as the modern height of assault against Muslims: when there were 93 reported victims of assault in 2001, the year in which Sept. 11 occurred. Muslim Girl described how Muslim Women's Day plans to address this violence:
We're teaming up with our friends at some of your favorite online destinations to pass the mic to Muslim women. We're centering Muslim women's voices in the conversation, from those impacted by gun violence, to sexual assault in the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, and much more. With the dialogue unfolding around us, it's so important to center the narratives we don't always get to hear.
The organization noted that the day is one that should be celebratory in nature, with people "flood[ing] the Internet with positive representations of who Muslim women are." Muslim Girl also stressed the inclusive nature of the the celebration, saying that anyone can participate.
Indeed, Muslim Girl proposes several options for participation, including following Muslim women's social media accounts and sharing or retweeting #MuslimWomensDay content (and using the designated hashtag). The website also reported that SnapChat has created #MuslimWomensDay filters, which it readily encourages you to use.
In addition to public participation, Muslim Girl is hosting a variety of Facebook Live conversations with several partners throughout the day including the United States of Women, Teen Vogue, and more.
2017's Muslim Women's Day was a much-celebrated success, with many taking to social media to commend Muslim Girl for working hard to make the day a reality. Now, 2018's Muslim Women's Day looks to be just as successful and influential, as Muslim women from around the world come together to make sure their voices are heard.