Sheynnis Palacios Makes History as First Nicaraguan Winner
In a groundbreaking moment for Nicaragua, Sheynnis Palacios, a 23-year-old communicologist, was crowned the winner of the 2023 Miss Universe competition in El Salvador on Saturday. Palacios made history as the first-ever Nicaraguan woman to secure the coveted title. Her journey included previous appearances in the 2017 Teen Miss Universe pageant, where she reached the top 10, and the 2021 Miss World pageant.
Palacios, who battled anxiety herself, expressed her commitment to promoting mental health. She affirmed her dedication to closing the gender salary gap, emphasizing her vision of empowering women to pursue careers in any field. Palacios’ victory was sealed with a thought-provoking answer during the final round, where she expressed a desire to spend a year in the shoes of Mary Wollstonecraft, the 18th-century English writer and philosopher known for her advocacy of women’s rights and feminism.
Miss Ireland’s Impressive Presence
Aishah Akorede, a 23-year-old law graduate from Leixlip, Co Kildare, stood out as a remarkable contender from Ireland. Holding a Master’s in International Corporate Governance, Akorede is also a fashion model and the founder of ‘Recrowned Ireland,’ a social justice initiative. Her presence at the Miss Universe Ireland 2023 final was marked by a dazzling showcase inspired by Irish elements and symbols.
Akorede, seeing the Miss Universe pageant as inherently feminist and diverse, highlighted the participants’ encouragement to showcase their passion for humanitarianism. She commented, “Miss Universe is doing so much to showcase how women are so much more than just a pretty face, how outer beauty is inner beauty made visible. Generations ago, as a black woman, I wouldn’t have been able to (be) Miss Universe, never mind represent Ireland. I wouldn’t have been the beauty standard back then, and that had to evolve to allow me to be in the pageant world too.”
Empowering Stories from Miss Nepal, Miss Spain, and Miss Colombia
Miss Nepal, Jane Dipika Garrett, who reached the top 20, is using her platform to advocate for mental and hormonal health, sharing her struggles with depression due to PCOS. She aims to represent all women, challenging conventional beauty standards.
Athenea Perez, Miss Spain, broke barriers as the first Black woman to win the Miss Spain title. Advocating for racial equality, Perez’s story, of growing up with a single immigrant mother, aims to inspire others. She emphasized, “Diversity is here, and diversity is now, it’s today.”
Miss Colombia, Camila Avella, broke new ground as the first married woman and mother to reach the top five in Miss Universe. The rule change in 2023 allowing mothers and married women was a catalyst for her return to the competition. Avella urged women to teach their children that they are not limitations, breaking down stereotypes.
Miss Pakistan’s Bold Representation
Erica Robin, the first woman to represent Pakistan at Miss Universe, made a notable impact by wearing a burkini during the swimsuit competition. Despite facing backlash, Robin emphasized her commitment to representing Pakistan’s rich culture and heritage and celebrating the success of women.
In the diverse and empowering landscape of the 2023 Miss Universe competition, these women showcased not only their beauty but also their resilience, advocacy, and determination to challenge societal norms.