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5 Boundary-Breaking Women in Honor of Muslim Women’s Day

Halima Aden photographed by Carter Smith for Vogue Arabia, April 2017

Today is Muslim Women’s Day. In honor of the occasion, we celebrate five boundary-breaking Muslim women, from the region and beyond. Featuring models, athletes, and activists, read on for the game-changing women you need to know.

Halima Aden

The Need to Know: The first chapters of Aden’s life story could not be further removed from the fashion industry. She was born in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, an arid, desolate space that’s home to more than 160 000 refugees. Soaring temperatures, disease, and no means of generating income or agricultural enterprise make it a harsh place to live. After relocating to the United States with her family when she was six, Aden would go on to make history as the first veiled contestant in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant, before making her New York Fashion Week debut at Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 5. Bookings at Alberta Ferretti and Max Mara in Milan soon followed. She has gone one to land major campaigns and editorials, appearing as the cover star for Vogue Arabia’s June 2017 issue.

Raha Moharrak

The Need to Know: Raha Moharrak’s story is one of firsts. Not only was the 31-year-old the first Saudi women to conquer Mount Everest, she has also been named as the first woman from her country to be a brand ambassador for TAG Heuer. “Climbing was never a decision, it was a calling.” That was a declaration Raha Moharrak made in conversation with Vogue Arabia way back in Fall 2016.

Ibtihaj Muhammad

The Need to Know: When Ibtihaj Muhammad stepped into the fencing piste at the 2016 Rio Olympics, she made history as the first American athlete to compete in the games wearing a hijab. In 2017, the New Jersey native made headlines again when it was announced that she was the inspiration behind Mattel’s first hijab-wearing Barbie. In an interview with team before her 2016 Olympic win, Muhammad stated, “People told me that my goals weren’t attainable for whatever reason – especially when I was trying to achieve a feat that has never been done before – and that was discouraging.” Her message to the next generation of sporting stars of Muslim faith? “Never allow anyone to dictate your journey.”

Noor Tagouri

The Need to Know: Noor Tagouri is a hijab-wearing journalist and activist. Born in 1993 to Libyan parents in West Virginia, her family moved to Maryland, where she grew up and found her passion for journalism. “I just knew that I wanted to ask questions for a living,” she recounted to Vogue Arabia. Tagouri went on to study Broadcast Journalism at the University of Maryland at 16 years old, where she landed an internship at CBS radio a mere year into her studies. She is the brainchild behind a thought-provoking documentary series A Woman’s Job, which explores females working in male-dominated industries. Occupations include a female mechanic (who runs a beauty bar attached to her car shop), as well as the first and only female NFL coach.

Zahra Lari

Zahra Lari for the Nike Pro Hijab. Courtesy of Nike

The Need to Know: As a Nike Pro Hijab ambassador, the first Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari has already succeeded in breaking the obvious #ArabFirst of being an professional ice skater hailing from this Middle Eastern country, and becoming a global household name to boot. Using her sphere of influence to send out positive messages to girls the world over to pursue their dreams no matter what obstacles they experience, we look ahead to see what Lari does next.

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