A 15-Year-Old Girl Realized That This Very Important Emoji Is Missing

Courtesy: Alexis Ohanian.
Among the many improvements to iOS 10stickers, confetti, and sketches, oh my! — one of the most talked about and eagerly anticipated might be the massive emoji update. Earlier this year, the Unicode Consortium approved dozens of icons that are more inclusive (finally, a rainbow flag), less gender specific (women can be police officers, too!), and more realistic looking than they have been in the past.

But, for all of the progress that emoji have seen over the years with regard to greater diversity, there’s still much that needs to happen. Thanks to one 15-year-old girl, attention is being called to one of the biggest omissions to date: There is no emoji of a woman wearing a hijab, or headscarf.

Rayouf Alhumedhi, a teenager from Saudi Arabia, just submitted a proposal to add the very necessary hijab emoji. The proposal was also backed by Jennifer 8. Lee, an American journalist and the CEO of the literary studio Plympton, as well as Alexis Ohanian, the cofounder of Reddit.

Alhumedhi, who is currently living in Berlin, began wearing a hijab when she was 13. She decided to submit the seven-page proposal about the history of the hijab and its importance after she created a group chat with friends on WhatsApp.

"The chat name was supposed to be [made up of] emojis of ourselves," Alhumedhi told Refinery29 in an email. "Obviously, I had no emoji that represented me — woman in headscarf — which got me thinking. Why isn't there an emoji that represents me and the millions of women across the globe? If there are four emojis that show the four stages of a mailbox, why isn't there one for the 500 million women that wear a headscarf? It made no sense to me whatsoever."

In the proposal, Alhumedhi, Lee, and Ohanian note that the only widespread social platform with an emoji of a woman in a hijab is Bitmoji. And, although there is an emoji of a woman in a turban, a simple Instagram search for "hijab" reveals far more photos than a search for "turban," showing that there is certainly plenty of demand for this particular emoji.

It took years for us to see women in emoji professions beyond the stereotyped dancer, party girl, and princess. The Unicode Consortium seems to be working more swiftly than it used to, though, so hopefully we'll see this emoji added to the mix in smartphones soon.

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