Khadija Omar made headlines this week by becoming the first hijabi to represent Somalia at the 70th Miss World pageant, in Puerto Rico. Growing up with no hijabi idols, in fact, the twenty-year-old student in psychology found herself admiring the Somali model, Halima Arden, which inspired the young contestant to work on representing Muslim girls like herself through media.
"I can't believe I'm the first Miss World Somalia. Anyone who knows me knows how long I’ve desired to compete in pageants, and represent hijabi girls worldwide," she said.
As a child, she grew up in a refugee camp in Nairobi, Kenya, before emigrating to Canada. This gave her personal experience with the harsh reality of living in rural parts of East Africa as she recalled residents experiencing problems such as droughts, locust attacks, and floods that internally displaced over 2.3 million people. Women and children were the most affected.
In fact, this moved Omar to make a pledge to help people in the East African region. On her beauty with a purpose program, she announced that she'd be partnering with UNHCR and Somali Youth Action in creating livelihood and climate education programs, in addition to helping people in flood-prone areas, securing sites for internally displaced people (IDP), and distributing aid kits.
"I had the experience of migrating with my family from my homeland to find access to resources, better opportunities and eventually have an overall good life. I know I've had the privilege of moving and having access to these opportunities, but I don't believe the idea of having a 'safe' and comfortable life should be a privilege, but be seen as a basic human right," Omar said.