22 Year-Old South African Crowned as Miss Universe 2017

By Faith Magbanua, November 28, 2017 19:11 PM

Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters(Facebook)

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, a 22-year-old South African National has bagged the most beset crown, the Miss Universe crown in the 2017 Miss Universe pageant on Sunday.

With her advocacy to defeat HIV/AIDS and self-defense causes, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was crowned at The AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

According to her statement given towards the reporters after the event, the newly crowned Miss Universe said that "HIV/AIDS is a very big problem in my country South Africa, so I hope to stand as an advocate for that,"

The competition, showcasing 92 women from around the world, participated in the decades-old tournament. However, this year's edition had the most contestants ever, including the first representatives for the pageant from Cambodia, Laos and Nepal.

Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez stood as runner-up while the second runner-up is Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett.

When asked to name the most important issue women face in the workplace, Nel-Peters said that the lack of equal pay is something to look at.

"In some places, women get paid 75 percent of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours, and I do not believe that is right," said Nel-Peters, who recently earned a business management degree. "I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world."

Along with the title, Nel-Peters earned a year-long salary, a luxury apartment in New York City for the duration of her reign and other major prizes. She is the second woman from her home country to earn the crown.

Meanwhile, the subject of sexual harassment against women, which has dominated headlines in the U.S. over the past two months, was raised during the pageant. In response to a question, Jamaica's Bennett said no form of abuse, including sexual harassment, should be tolerated, and any instances of sexual harassment should be brought to authorities.

In the U.S., dozens of politicians, Hollywood executives and actors, and media personalities are facing accusations of sexual misconduct, sparked by a wave of allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Nel-Peters said women can empower each other to standup against any abuse.

"You feel so empowered because you are on a stage with 91 other women that are strong, that are independent, that have worked really hard," she said. "They are all winners; they are winners of their own countries, and to me, that was so empowering. That just showed me that if women take hands and stand together, we are unbreakable and we can say no to the things that are wrong in the workplace, at home or wherever you might go."

Much other people's surprise, Steve Harvey has returned as the show's host despite botching the 2015 Miss Universe crowning.

 On Sunday, he poked fun at his mistake throughout the night. Three days after people in the U.S. celebrated Thanksgiving, Harvey told the audience he is "grateful for the Oscars," referring to the best-picture flub at this year's Academy Awards.

Who is Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters?

Born on June 28, 1995 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters is a South African model and beauty queen. She grew up in Sedgefield, Western Cape to Bennie Peters and Anne-Mari Steenkamp.

Her half-sister, Franje, has physical disability, and Nel-Peters says that she is the most significant motivator in her life. She received a degree in business management from North-West University, and is fluent in both English and Afrikaans.

Nel-Peters previously was crowned Miss South Africa 2017, and is the second Miss Universe winner from South Africa, following Miss Universe 1978 Margaret Gardiner. She even helped develop a program to train women in self-defense in various situations after she was robbed at gunpoint a month after she was crowned Miss South Africa.


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