SAN SALVADOR. — As one of the biggest and most prestigious pageants in the world, the Miss Universe organisation has been at the forefront of finding ways to support more women. They’ve consistently evolved to heed calls for greater diversity, inclusivity, and representation in the pageant.
Zimbabwe will be represented by Brooke Bruck-Jackson.
In 2012, the organisers changed its rule only allowing “naturally born females” in the competition to also allow transgender candidates to participate.
They remain to be the only major international pageant that accepts trans women candidates.
Spain’s Angela Ponce made history in 2018 as the first transgender delegate to compete in the international edition of the pageant.
In 2022, the Miss Universe organisation announced that starting 2023, they’ll be opening the pageant to mothers and wives. Previously, only single women, aged between 18 to 28, who “must not have ever been married, not had a marriage annulled, nor given birth to, or parented a child” were allowed to compete.
“Now, women are able to have families, they’re able to have a job, they’re able to be a spokesperson. We should not be the ones to say, ‘You can’t do this,” Paula Shugart president of the Miss Universe organisation, said about their decision.
For the Miss Universe 2023 pageant, two married women with children and two transgender women will be competing for the crown — a first in the pageant’s more than 70-year history.
In light of these ground-breaking developments, let’s get to know more about the contestants who are set to make history in the pageant:
MICHELLE COHNN (Guatemala)
In August, Michelle Cohhn became the first married woman with children to win the Miss Universe Guatemala crown, as well as the first mother confirmed to compete in the 2023 pageant.
The 28-year-old beauty queen is married to Andres Mattheu, whom she shares two children with — a son and a daughter.
CAMILA AVELLA (COLOMBIA)
In September, Camila Avella was crowned Miss Universe Colombia — the first married candidate to win the title.
The model and TV presenter is a mother of one, a two-year-old daughter. Following Cohn, she’s the second delegate in the Miss Universe 2023 pageant who has a child.
“Amelia, my daughter, is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” she wrote in Spanish.
“With her was born in me the desire to achieve the best version of myself. I want to show the universe how capable we women are and be an example and inspiration that being a mother does not limit us to working.”
RIKKIE VALERIE KOLLE (NETHERLANDS)
In July, model Rikkie Valerie Kolle became the first transgender woman candidate to win the Miss Universe Netherlands crown.
Following her crowning moment, Kollé took to social media to share her happiness about the milestone.
“As a little boy, I conquered all the things that came through my path. And look at me now, standing here as a strong, empowering, and confident trans woman. Love is love. Be who you want to be,” she said.
Kollé is only the second transgender woman to join the global Miss Universe pageant since Spain’s Ponce.
MARIANA MACHETE (PORTUGAL)
In October, Marina Machete was named Miss Universe Portugal, making her the first transgender woman to win the crown. She’s also the second transgender woman to be confirmed to compete in the Miss Universe 2023 pageant.
During the Miss Portugal pageant, the flight attendant lobbied for trans rights, saying that the “rise in the levels of transphobia and intolerance worldwide” is “alarming.” — rappler.com.