Amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the global healthcare community encountered unprecedented obstacles. Frontline workers, in particular, heavily relied on personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard both themselves and their patients.
However, for Muslim women working in healthcare, a significant gap in appropriate PPE became glaringly evident. Traditional medical caps left the neck exposed, failing to meet the standards of hijab-wearing Muslim healthcare workers.
This gap spurred the creation of an innovative solution – the Hygienic Hijab. This groundbreaking disposable protective hijab was developed by respiratory therapists Yasmin Samatar and Firaoli Adam.
Samatar and Adam, with years of experience treating patients across the country, faced frustration due to the lack of viable PPE options for Muslim women. Conventional medical attire did not align with hijabi standards, leaving the neck and part of the hijab exposed to potential contamination.
This oversight not only compromised the safety of healthcare workers but also jeopardised the well-being of their patients and loved ones.
Motivated by their own experiences and a shared vision, Samatar and Adam embarked on a journey to address the gap in culturally-conscious PPE. They co-founded Mawadda, a company with a mission to provide suitable protective gear for Muslim women in healthcare settings.
The name “Mawadda,” derived from the Arabic language, embodies the deepest form of love, affection, sympathy, compassion, and harmony – values that resonate with the essence of their mission. The development of Hygienic Hijab marked a significant milestone in the journey of Samatar and Adam. As Somali and Oromo individuals, respectively, they were driven not only by personal experiences but also by the concerns of family members facing similar challenges.
Patients undergoing surgery, MRI scans, and various medical procedures found themselves without culturally-conscious hospital attire, often given a bedsheet as a makeshift replacement for their hijab.
Recognising the widespread nature of this issue, Samatar and Adam sought to create an FDA-compliant bio-safe, disposable hijab – the first of its kind. The patent-pending design of Hygienic Hijab was tailored to meet the unique needs of Muslim women, addressing the shortcomings of traditional PPE by providing a snug fit that could be worn alone or on top of an existing hijab.
The hijab is currently available in two styles – “Ikram” and “Znub.” The “Ikram” style allows for wrapping and tying in the front or back, while the “Znub” style offers a quick and convenient pull-on design. Both styles are constructed from a specially-made, breathable spun-bond fibre, ensuring comfort and effectiveness in healthcare settings.
Reflecting on their journey, Samatar and Adam express gratitude for the community support that propelled Mawadda forward.
With Hygienic Hijab establishing a foothold in the market, Mawadda looks toward the future. The company plans to expand its product line to include other sanitary wear for healthcare workers, such as scrub skirts and long shirts. Additionally, Mawadda aims to extend its market penetration beyond healthcare to industries like food production and laboratories, where workers also require personal protective equipment.
The journey of Mawadda and the creation of Hygienic Hijab exemplify the intersection of innovation, cultural inclusivity, and a commitment to addressing unmet needs in the healthcare landscape.
As the company continues to grow, it stands as a beacon of positive change, championing representation and safety for Muslim women in the healthcare industry and beyond.