Friday, March 8, 2024

“This is the end of the Miss World competition as we know it. Big changes are coming" : Veronika Didusenko at a panel discussion at Columbia Global Centers Mumbai

MUMBAI / INDIA March ,9 2024 –  On International Women's Day, Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai, a part of a network of 11 global centers of Columbia University, hosted a panel discussion, "Voices of Change: Fostering Equity and Inclusion," spotlighting the challenges and systemic barriers women face across professional landscapes. The event featured a diverse group of trailblazers sharing their insights and advocacies for true gender equity.

Veronika Didusenko, founder of the Right To Be A Mother NGO and currently an MPA student at Columbia's SIPA, leverages her platform to challenge discriminatory practices in the beauty pageant industry that discriminate against women based on their family status, maternity, and pregnancy. "Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth just have to accept that time inexorably moves forward. That the world has changed once again. Or to become an anachronism themselves, another page of history forever turned," she stated.
Didusenko battle for inclusivity started in 2018 from being disqualified as Miss Ukraine for motherhood to leading a global initiative for change. Last year, her Right To Be A Mother initiative achieved lifting restrictions for young mothers by the Miss Universe, the first of the Big Four beauty pageants to do so. Now Didusenko fighting for the Miss World to follow suit, the organization responsible for her disqualification maintains outdated rules.

Gloria Allred, an award-winning women’s rights attorney, lauded for her pioneering legal work for discrimination, shared, "If you have the opportunity to act, you have the desire to act, and you have the ability to act to help others, then that's exactly what you should do. It's really the only moral choice you can make." She further underscored her desire to improve the status of women and have them be able to enjoy equal rights in every aspect of life throughout the world. Allred’s relentless pursuit of justice, with over four decades of legal work championing gender equity, taking on high-profile cases to fight for women's equality, encapsulates her commitment to justice and the empowerment of women.

Diana Edulji, former India captain, is the first Indian woman cricketer to be inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame…
Danielle Hazel, a professional model with a background in the performing arts and an ambassador of the Right To Be A Mother campaign, emphasized the importance of inclusivity in pageantry as a means to break gender stereotypes and empower women: "Our fight is more than just changing a rule; it's about redefining beauty and success for women everywhere.”
Together with Gloria Allred Daniel, who became a mother at 19 and has been facing discrimination by the rules of the contest for 6 year, represents legal side of the Right To Be A Mother initiative which aims to change anachronistic violation of all sorts of gender equality laws in Miss World pageant.
Tülin Şahin, a Turkish-Danish supermodel celebrating 25 years of professional journey in fashion, and also an ambassador for UNICEF and UN Women, spoke to the power of resilience and breaking barriers, celebrating diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry.
“Being a woman in the fashion industry has allowed me to witness firsthand the unifying power of women and fashion. It's a world where creativity, resilience, and empowerment converge, creating a space for us to express ourselves, challenge norms, and drive change," Şahin shared testifying to challenging industry standards and advocating for diversity and acceptance reshaping perceptions of beauty and success.
As the beauty pageant industry stands at the cusp of significant transformation, "Voices of Change: Fostering Equity and Inclusion" conversation not only celebrated progress but also underscored the continuous effort required to ensure that equity and inclusion are not merely ideals but realities for all.

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