Monday, February 24, 2020
ADVT 
Newsmakers

Manal Rostom, The Surviving Hijab Story

BY GARIMA GOSWAMI, 21 Nov, 2019
  • Manal Rostom, The Surviving Hijab Story

In 2014, Rostom created a women-only online community called Surviving Hijab, a strong group of hijab wearing women that share their struggles, insecurities and hardships, and support one another to hold on to their veil.

Manal Rostom, the 40-year-old Egyptian athlete is the first hijabi woman to be featured by Nike to promote their sports hijab line. In 2014, Rostom created a women-only online community called Surviving Hijab, a strong group of hijab wearing women that share their struggles, insecurities and hardships, and support one another to hold on to their veil. As the community expanded, Rostom propelled on her mission to build representation of hijabi women in non-conventional spaces such as sports gear.

In an interview with The Student Newspaper, Rostom mentions, “So, my email to Nike was after I founded Surviving Hijab, which was August 2014, and it gave me a voice and the confidence to reach out and tell bigger brands: “Hey look, we exist, there is not enough Muslim woman representation currently on the sports front, and the question is ‘Why’?”. There are so many beautiful women out there changing the sport of their relative countries, and I was lucky enough that my email hit the right person at the right time, and the rest is history.”

In a short period of time, Surviving Hijab grew into a strong 622,000-member community, urging Facebook to invite Rosom to give a talk at their headquarters in Dubai. Speaking about her group’s sudden shot to fame, Rostom mentions to Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, “It came from a very dark and desperate place. I was bullied by a society that was making me feel uncomfortable because of my personal choices to exercise faith by covering up.”

Later in 2018, Rostom won the Facebook Community Leadership Award and won $50,000 USD to enhance the activities of her group and lead her Facebook community efficiently through the required resources. “The first time I stood on stage I was so emotional I cried. I honestly don’t know how I did it, but I received a standing ovation from the 5,000 people in the audience. I was so honoured to be there amongst people who didn’t necessarily know anything about me or my religion, yet still really got behind me,” Rostom told Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.

A major milestone for this trailblazer was the climb to Everest Base Camp this year. She invited members from Surviving Hijab to join her in this expedition and the response was phenomenal. Women of different age-groups from all over the world joined Rostom in the two-week adventure. “People don’t get it, they don’t understand. I want to change the false perceptions that assume hijabi women are boring and uneducated, women who don’t play sport or travel. I am hoping by reaching base camp of the highest mountain in the world that my message will make a lot of noise and echo for years to come,” Rostom adds as she narrates her Everest Base Camp vision to Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.

Rostom is on a mission to become the first Egyptian woman to climb the Seven Summits and complete all six major marathons by 2020. She is regularly seen running local and international marathons with the recent ones being Dubai Marathon, the China Wall Marathon, and the New York City Marathon. She is already making great strides with her unwavering zeal. “I hope that every woman who gets inspired by me uses that energy to not let anyone stop her from achieving her dreams, goals, anything you’ve thought about that’s really crazy and people have thought that ‘she’s crazy’, whatever. Just go after it with all your heart and soul. There will be loads of roadblocks, but if I can do it, you can,” she tells The Student Newspaper.

Photos: Manal A Rostom/Facebook

MORE Newsmakers ARTICLES

Young leader in the making: Balpreet Bal

Young leader in the making: Balpreet Bal

Bal grew up and studied in the Surrey region. At 19, he got his realtor’s license, and by 22-23 he had his own real estate brokerage. 

Young leader in the making: Balpreet Bal

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Minister Harjit Sajjan

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Minister Harjit Sajjan

2016 was a year where we saw the Defence Minister take up important issues affecting the country and its people and bravely and fairly finding measures to deal with them.

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Minister Harjit Sajjan

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Dave Mann

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Dave Mann
A successful entrepreneur, well-known personality in the South Asian community and beyond, and a philanthropist – Dave Mann, founder of Isle of Mann Construction Ltd. and Mannkind Charitable Society, is known by many names. 

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Dave Mann

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Vikram Vij

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Vikram Vij

Each initiative of Vikram Vij has been better than the last – the recent one being his association with Air Canada and the introduction of his food on their Vancouver to New Delhi flights.

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Vikram Vij

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Umang Khandelwal

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Umang Khandelwal

Umang Khandelwal has been playing a key role in highlighting the issues Canadian youth face in the country and has been working towards finding solutions to these issues.

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Umang Khandelwal

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Jugpreet Bajwa

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Jugpreet Bajwa
Jugpreet's participation in Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 2016 put him in the limelight all over the world. His melodious voice captured the hearts of the judges and listeners alike and he became one of the top three contestants on the show. 

DARPAN's Newsmaker of 2016: Jugpreet Bajwa