Nelson Mandela would be so proud.
Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was crowned Miss Universe 2019 on Sunday after receiving excellent scores for her response to questions on social issues and what we should be teaching young girls about their value, self-being and how they have to “cement” themselves in spaces that they enter.
Tunzi’s smile was as vibrant as the sun and lit up the stage.
“I think the most important thing we should be teaching young girls today is leadership. It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time, not because we don’t want to but because of what society has labeled women to be,” said Tunzi, who is an activist engaged in the fight against gender-based violence, according to Miss Universe. “I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity and that is what we should be teaching these girls, to take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space and cementing yourself.”
Tunzi also impressed the judges with the way she worked her swimsuit and evening gown apparel and said she wanted to be Miss Universe because: “I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful. I think it is time that that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”
The two runners up – Miss Mexico and Miss Puerto Rico – also received high marks for their thoughtful responses to the question of why they should be selected as Miss Universe.
Sofía Aragón of Mexico told the judges that “if you do not use your beauty for your life’s mission, it’s just an empty ornament.”
Madison Anderson, who represented Puerto Rico, said the pageant helped her find her passion.
“Being on the Miss Universe stage is not just a dream” Anderson said. “I believe that I found my mission. It’s a representation of dedication, resilience, and perseverance. I do believe my mission is to show the world that magic happens when we refuse to give up because the universe always listens to a stubborn heart.”
The pageant, in all of its splendor, was held at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta and Steve Harvey hosted the affair for his fifth year. The pageant made history from the onset with Miss Myanmar, Swe Zin Htet, declaring she is the competition’s first openly gay contestant.
In a video, last year’s winner, Catriona Gray from the Philippines, told the contestants that her reign as Miss Universe over the past year had been “unforgettable, life-changing and purposeful.”
“We’re getting this amazing platform to voice the things we’re passionate about, the things we care about,” Gray said. “I always had a voice, but Miss Universe allowed me to amplify it.”