On November 26th, 2017, South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was crowned as Miss Universe 2017. Whether you watched the event or not, here are 5 things you should know about Miss Universe 2017:
1. She is the first South African Miss Universe to be born in free South Africa, and is only the second South African Miss Universe, following 1978s Margaret Gardiner. Nel-Peters was born in 1995, just one year after the country’s first general elections allowed citizens of all races to take part.
2. After being a victim to an attempted hijacking where she was held at gunpoint, Nel-Peters started the Unbreakable Campaign to empower women and to teach them how to handle situations ranging from robberies and hijackings to toxic or abusive relationships.
3. Aside from the Unbreakable Campaign, Nel-Peters is a large advocate of women’s rights and gender issues. In the final round of Miss Universe, Nel-Peters was asked about what she felt to be the biggest issue with women in the workforce, and she answered “In some places, women get paid 75% of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours and I do not believe that this is right. I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world.” She is also quoted as saying, “I want woman to be treated as equals in every part of the world. We are making great strides but there is still so much to be done.”
4. She is a recent graduate of North-West University, with a degree in Business Management. Nel-Peters hopes to use her business experience, passion for women’s rights, and new platform as Miss Universe to create another global campaign aimed at helping women develop their business skills.
5. Her motivation comes from her younger half-sister, Franje, who was born without a cerebellum. “She is my biggest motivator and inspiration, because her situation makes me realize how special life is and I always want to work twice as hard, enjoy life twice as much so that I can enjoy it for her as well. Therefore, each experience I encounter is that much more special.”