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Don’t just mind the gap, fill it: Fatima Togbe, a woman taking initiative with Hayati Magazine

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It’s always an encouraging thing when people see a gap in the society and reach out to try and fill it. Especially when filling that gap meets the needs of an audience mostly glazed over in certain industries of mainstream society.

Fatima Togbe, founder of the Muslimah women’s lifestyle magazine Hayati, is one example. Togbe is a young Muslim woman from Benin and Nigeria trained in Business Administration and Management. Raised abroad, Togbe returned full-time to Nigeria in 2010 and started Hayati Magazine in 2012, an online magazine that covers fashion, beauty and lifestyle features for a targeted audience of Muslim women.

It all started because Togbe couldn’t find any magazines that featured the stories she wanted to read as a young Muslim woman, or that addressed the issues she and her friends were dealing with. “I love fashion so much and love magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Glamour, but I can’t wear half the things in them, nor do the topics meet a lot of my own needs.” Togbe started looking both online and in stores for magazines that catered to Muslim women but all the ones she found were “boring.” “No one was really writing about issues that pertain to Muslim women and to a younger new generation of us.”

Hayati Magazine feels fresh to Togbe because “it’s a place where women can talk and read about real issues without fear of judgments. There’s no pretence about certain life situations. As a community we don’t do anyone a service by covering up our issues or stigmatising people.”

According to Togbe, some of the most popular topics that her target audience wants to read about include polygamy and how to handle the possibility of a new wife or becoming an additional wife. Women also want advice on how to be a better wife to their husbands. Other big topics are about dealing with miscarriages and losing infant children.

“Hayati has played a major role in my own growth. Whenever things happen to me and I dare to share in the magazine I realise that so many people endure similar things. We just don’t talk openly about what we are really going through,” says Togbe.

This year marks the 5th anniversary of Hayati magazine. What started with only 50 daily views has now reached close to 2000 daily views. To celebrate it’s 5th year, Togbe curated and hosted the first Hayati Fashion Week (HFW) this past July. The three-day event was a “celebration of modesty” and sponsored in part by Maggi of the Nestle group, Vlisco, Pandora and Dunes Center, and in partnership with Medicaid Cancer Foundation. Over 200 people attended the fashion shows in Abuja and 14 designers participated.

Togbe states that a future goal of HFW will include workshops and seminars on everyday topics as they pertain to Muslim women. For example, how can Muslim women mix business with their religion? How do they get funding for their businesses or what are options for investing money when they are not permitted to collect interest?

For now, the next step for Togbe and Hayati magazine is to launch the print issue across the country and internationally. The brand is also starting a French version and working on a Hayati Talk Show. To keep up with all things Hayati readers can join the 15k and growing number of followers on the Hayati Magazine Instagram page.



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