This past Sunday the Miss Universe competition was held at the AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip. Unlike last year, host Steve Harvey crowned the rightful winner of the evening with no confusion — Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel Peters. She became the second South African to win the title of Miss Universe since the pageant’s inception in 1956.
Many hot button topics were addressed by the contestants, including the winner, Nel Peters, who opened up about a traumatic incident in which she was held at gunpoint. Due to her encounter —which happened only a month after being crowned Miss South Africa — Nel Peters is now passionate about women’s self-defense. She has since developed her own self-defense program called Unbreakable, which focuses on equipping women with knowledge and skills to empower themselves so they can avoid a similar situation.
When asked about issues women still face in the workforce, Nel Peters said, “In some places, women get paid 75% of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours — and I do not believe that this is right. I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world.”
The runner ups, Miss Colombia Laura González and Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett, also impressed the judges during the Q&A segment, answering questions on how to talk to children about terrorism and sexual harassment, respectively.
“Sexual harassment is a form of abuse and no abuse should be tolerated whether in the workplace or in society,” Bennett said. “I believe that men and women should come together and be professional.”
Despite not winning, Bennett was the talk across social media for embracing her natural afro, which many agree was a win for inclusivity.
“I did not win but I got what I was seeking,” Bennett wrote on Instagram. “I won the hearts of many, I got to highlight Deaf awareness, I stand as the first afro queen to have made it thus far, I represented my little island and I received allll the love one could possibly wish for…. THANK YOU!!! I came, I conquered and if you know me, then you know that’s just another story and you will be seeing a lot more from me💃😉👑 To all the queens that represented, congrats and to our new Miss Universe @demileighnp go conquer the world you are indeed a gem!😍😙”
The Miss Universe 2017 top 13 finalists were Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Spain, Ireland, Croatia, Great Britain, USA, Brazil, Canada, Philippines, Venezuela and China.