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February 08, 2018

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Richard Powell

Annie Wells MSP (Con) supports World Hijab Day because "Everyone has a choice" while John Mason MSP (SNP) likes it because "its aim is to encourage modesty and self-control - good values". And according to the Mail the Foreign Office (FCO) invited staff to wear Islamic headscarves for the day "claiming they symbolised ‘liberation, respect and security’".

Undoubtedly there are many women - and perhaps a few men - for whom it feels good to wear a hijab and no-one should have a problem with that. But it's wrong to ignore the fact that there are women who hate it and have no choice in the matter. The FCO has a Special Envoy for Gender Equality who is "taking forward the global agenda of equality support projects to increase women’s empowerment around the world, challenging gender stereotypes of what a "traditional" women’s role is." And yet here the very same department is doing its very best to reinforce stereotypes. I wonder how they square the two.

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