Today, Global Pink Hijab Day Challenges Stereotypes & Raises Breast Cancer Awareness

Two medical students are promoting breast cancer awareness by wearing pink ribbons and a pink hijab in Sabratha, Libya. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Today, women around the world will celebrate a onetime high school fashion experiment that has become a global initiative during Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Pink Hijab Day.

In 2004, a group of female students in Columbia, Missouri wore bright pink hijabs (traditional Muslim headscarfs) to their high school, hoping to challenge stereotypes of Muslim women and highlight breast cancer as a cross-cultural issue. It worked! Over the past eight years, Pink Hijab Day has gained international attention from breast cancer advocates and Islamic organizations alike. Thousands of supporters across the globe are expected to don pink headscarfs and attend special events, from breast cancer screenings in South Africa to community luncheons in Atlanta.

The special day typically takes place on the fourth Wednesday of October. According to the official Pink Hijab Day website, the purpose of the day is threefold:

  1. Hijab – To encourage those who are curious about Muslim women and about hijab to ask Muslim women about what their hijab means
  2. Society – To encourage Muslim women to participate in various community improvement projects because we are a valuable part of the fabric of the societies we live in. One of these projects is the effort to find a cure for breast cancer
  3. Health – To raise funds for cancer research, and to encourage all people to maintain their health by getting regular screenings and to increase knowledge about preventative methods.

We love the idea of women coming together across cultures to participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, because breast cancer has no borders. According to recent breast cancer statistics, excluding skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. And women in the Muslim world see more fatalities from breast cancer than any other cancer (SOURCE).

Today, though, Muslim women across the globe are wearing their pink hijabs in an effort to raise awareness, encourage early detection, and change those numbers! And it’s not just the ladies — Muslim men are encouraged to wear pink kufis, or skullcaps. As we’ve often discussed, men can get breast cancer, too.

Best of all, many Pink Hijab Day events and lectures are still taking place in classrooms and after-school clubs. We know from our high school breast health workshops that this is a crucial way to inform students about the lifestyle changes they can make today to reduce their risk of breast cancer in the future.

From a classroom in New Jersey to a charity bazaar in Bulgaria, this day honors the commitment thousands have made to engage their communities and overcome stereotypes in the name of women’s health! How will you join them today?