Article 2 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana states that “All persons SHALL have the rights and freedoms to practice any religion and to manifest such practice”
The issues of female Muslims wearing hijab to formal settings have become topical in recent years. Allegations of them being restrained from wearing their hijab from primary schools to senior high schools have emanated from all over the country. Recently at the Meet – the – Press series organized by the Information Ministry featuring the Minister for Zongos and Inner Cities the plight of some Muslim health professionals were highlighted.
In Islam wearing of a head cover or hijab is a manifestation of the religion and as such covered by Article 2 of the constitution hence when Muslim women decide to wear hijabs to formal settings, they are acting within their constitutional rights. Recently a medical officer in the Northern region during a durbar with stakeholders had the guts to state that given his way he would bar Nurses from wearing hijab at their workplaces without no stated reasons. It’s surprising for someone of his caliber to have such a biased view of the hijab. However he does not seem to be the only person with such a queer view. Again it’s been reported that SSNIT which belongs to all contributing members had barred a female Muslim national service personnel from wearing her hijab if she is to do her service with the organization. Sadly however is the allegation that a fellow woman who happens to be the HR manager is the one accused of telling her to ditch her identity if she is to do her service?
Our Muslim female colleagues face this dilemma every day in various workplaces and organizations. The guiltiest of this is the banking industry. Most banks in the country would not allow a Hijab wearing lady even in the backroom not to talk of allowing her in the front desk or the teller booth. Hence banking and finance courses are becoming very difficult areas for some of our ladies to consider. Their parents find it difficult to finance their courses of study if at the end of the day they are deprived from manifesting their religion.
Some of our colleagues also in the medical field especially nursing always face similar challenges noted in Dr. Case. Interestingly wearing of a head cover in the medical field is highly recommended. Surgeons are mandated to cover their hairs and wear face masks when carrying out surgeries. Yet in our various hospitals and clinics our Muslim female medical practitioners are denied their basic right to manifest their religion.
A lady friend of mine who works in a public university had numerously informed me of various instances where her superiors and sometimes her subordinates question her on wearing of hijab to work. According to her what infuriates her more is when a female just like her asks her to quit wearing of hijab and show off her hair like everyone does. She sees it as a betrayal by a fellow woman whom she expects to show her support in this struggle.
Even though, some people see the west as the bane of Islam, however it is within their communities that Islam is finding various outlets to manifest itself. In the UK, precisely London, the MET police have made provision for Muslim women who want to join the force by way of a new dress code. In New York a new hair salon to cater for women who wear hijab was recently opened. Even in the world of sport, precisely swimming or water sports, female Muslims are allowed to wear what is called a “Burkini” to swim in pools.
I think back home in Ghana a lot needs to be done to create more awareness about the wearing of hijab to formal settings. Recently JoyNews Prime reported that the Hijab has become a fashion trend where even non-Muslim females wear it for personal reasons. People who are inherently antagonistic towards Islam especially the wearing of hijab to formal settings need to understand that it is a constitutional right which no one can take away from them.
Again, I call on my fellow Muslim sisters to continue to wear their hijab as proudly as they can so as to inspire their fellow female Muslims or not to copy from such a noble act because it adds more dignity to their personalities. In fact a professional Muslim woman who wears a hijab makes her stand out from her other colleagues at any location or function.
The Writer: Iddi Adam,