THE Miss World Pageant is a platform where women can highlight their own issues and a great opportunity for women all over the world to speak out.
So said Giselle Laronde-West yesterday during the screening segment of the Miss World TT competition at the Bungalow on Rust Street, St Clair.
The former Miss World winner called on people worldwide to look past the glitz and glamour of the beauty pageant and see it as an opportunity for women to speak on their own behalf and be a champion for change when it comes to women’s issues.
“As far as I am concerned, wherever a woman has a voice, she has an opportunity to speak on behalf of women,” Laronde-West said. “And Miss World being such a huge platform that is recognised all over the world and has so much exposure, it is a great opportunity for any woman to have that chance.”
Laronde-West yesterday said for far too long women were considered “bimbos” because they entered a beauty pageant, and it was time for people to change that perception. She said when a woman is selected, she becomes a representative who would put her country on the map.
“You are never known as Giselle, you are known as Miss TT. So the country is recognised. When the girls leave there at least 20 or 30 out of the 80 girls would have known about Miss TT. She would have taken up memorabilia, and information about the country.
"International viewers will hear about the country. If they don’t know your name they could go and Google it. So there is an opportunity for recognition for the country even if the girl doesn’t win. Since I won the miss world competition I have done thousands of interviews. Does that not give me a voice and an opportunity to talk about women and on their behalf?"
Laronde-West said if the TT representative manages to go all the way to winning the crown, she will spend the next year not only representing her country but women all over the world.
Miss World TT hopefuls who spoke to Newsday yesterday agreed with Laronde-West, adding that the pageant is just as relevant a platform for women to speak, as other movements which focus on the advancement and protection of women like the feminist movement and the #metoo movement.
“Miss world offers such an outstanding opportunity to represent your country and also do some good,” said Dominique Ramsawak, a Miss World TT hopeful.
“I think the beauty of Miss World is the fact that it empowers women outside of the patriarchal framework, so they don’t emphasise on women’s bodies and it allows women to be empowered from themselves. The tag line is literally “beauty with a purpose,” so you are going out and helping people and using your experience to do some good in the world.”
“It opens women to different opportunities and it will allow young women to show the talents they possess, and from there they would be able to advance themselves,” said another contestant, Rachael Gregoire.
“There has been a wide range of abuse against women in TT. The murder rates among women is staggering,” said Miranda Maharaj. “With Miss World TT as a platform we can reach out to survivors, provide them services and empower them, because the Miss World Organisation collaborates with government ministries and non-governmental organisations who try to help these victims.”
Hundreds of women from across TT went to Rust Street yesterday during the screening process, to vie for the chance to become the TT’s representative in the Miss World pageant. Newsday was told from the hundreds of applications that were screened yesterday, judges will have to make a short list of 15, one of whom will ultimately represent TT at the pageant to be held this year in Thailand.