Thursday, October 22

Mrs World pageant seeks to empower women

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Datin Harveen Kaur, Mrs Malaysia World 2017.

WHICH woman does not desire to look young and beautiful?

The beauty industries sure know it — which is why they claim their products can make women young and beautiful.

And society, on its part, also seems obsessed with women who are young and single – not to mention available — but ignores women who are older, with families, learned, having sacrificed, contributed, and even reached the peak of their professional careers.

Still, when it comes to a beauty contest, people tend to look out for the young, beautiful and single.

For those who can be jolted out of their fantasy world, it’s kind of refreshing to see mature married women making it to the world stage to celebrate the spirit of a beauty pageant.

“Mrs World” is an international beauty pageant that began 30 years ago in La Quinta, California, with a mission to provide a platform that motivates married women and mothers from all over the world to become role models to their peers, families and communities through charitable activities, volunteerism, involvement within the community as well as embracing their flaws to overcome fears and gain confidence and self-esteem.

“Mrs World” aims to educate the contestants on the importance of giving back to society. The event has been voted the best international pageant in the married genre.

One of a kind

Harveen Kaur and her husband celebrating her proud moment.

The pageant features 80 countries which have elevated the combined system to become the largest and most successful of its genre in the world. It’s truly one of a kind.

“I believe the pageant, if done ethically and responsibly, can help build up self-esteem and self-confidence and foster excellence, achievement and personal growth.

“More importantly, it will promote female empowerment,” said reigning Mrs Malaysia World 2017 Datin Harveen Kaur.

thesundaypost met up with her during her visit to Kuching to attend the grand final of Miss World Malaysia 2018.

According to her, Mrs World Pageant is not only a platform to motivate mothers and married women to become the best possible version of themselves but, more importantly, to promote female empowerment as well.

“Its mission is to empower these women to become role models to their peers, families and communities. It doesn’t aim to produce models but role models,” she stressed.

“In recent times, women empowerment has become a jargon, sending shock waves around the globe, as women prove they are equal to men in all spheres, taking up diverse professions and breaking the glass ceiling.

“We already know and we’ve seen evidence that when we empower a woman, we unlock opportunities not just for one woman but also her children, family, the whole community as well as the entire nation.”

Datin Harveen Kaur in a family photo.

Harveen said after winning Mrs Malaysia World 2017, she represented the country in the Mrs World 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

On returning to Malaysia, she was offered licence by Mrs World Inc founder David Marmel to manage, implement and organise Mrs Malaysia World 2018 under Mrs Malaysia World Sdn Bhd (MMWSB).

The pageant was to crown a new queen to represent Malaysia on the international stage later this year.

As the national or the country’s director of Mrs Malaysia World 2018, Harveen said she was proud to be part of a platform that motivated and empowered mothers and married women to become the best possible version of themselves.

Harveen is a mother of three — two 15-year-old boys who are identical twins and a 12-year-old daughter.

She is a staff nurse assisting in surgeries, and apart-time model.

Q: What inspired you to enter your first pageant?

A: It was my husband — he was the one who gave me the push and blessing all the way. My first pageant was in 2006. I didn’t win the main title but I won as the ambassador. When I joined Mrs Malaysia World 2017, I won and represented the country in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Q: How do your children feel about you joining a pageant?

A: Oh yes, they’re very supportive. In fact, they’re very proud of their mummy. When I’ve to leave them for work or pageant activities, they will cooperate by taking care of themselves.

Q: What were the contestants judged on in the competition last year?

A: We were judged throughout our six months’ journey on our participation in the organisation’s activities, our contributions to the organisation as well as our demeanour as role models, being a finalist and a wife at the same time.

Q: How was your experience during the competition?

A: It was good journey — challenging, exciting, and rewarding. I made a lot of friends and learned a lot about life as well.

Q: What is your strategy to win the judges over?

A: Confidence, humility, lots of practice and being true to myself and who I am in everyday life.

Q: How different is it to compete in a Miss and a Mrs beauty pageant?

A: It’s totally different. Once you’re a Mrs, you’re a wife, a mother, so you must learn to balance your time and responsibilities. It’s more challenging because you’ve to cover a bigger field — from looking after your family to managing the household and your own career.

And this is where the husband comes in. No more gender roles. The couple has to be versatile. At times, the husband has to be the wife and mother while the wife has to be the husband and father.

But when you’re a Miss, you don’t go through all these because you are still with your parents.

Q: What sort of programmes have you been involved in after winning the title?

A: I have attended a lot of talks, especially motivational talks. I have also been appointed as a judge in beauty contests and participated in charity events.

Currently, my main responsibility is being the national or the country’s director of Mrs Malaysia World 2018.

I’m taking care of the finalists.

Q: How did it feel when you heard your name announced as the winner?

A: I was shocked but excited and happy. It was so emotional. I didn’t expect to win but I did feel I deserved the verdict because I knew I had tried my best.

Q: You’re an inspiration to all the Mrs out there. Do you have anything to say to them?

A: What I’d like to say to the married ladies out there is to learn from their mistakes and look at marriage as the beginning of a new chapter of their lives.

If you’re pragmatic enough, you can even condition your mind to think life begins after marriage.

Always be proud of who you are, what you do and doing your best. Life is short. Don’t waste time. Don’t give up easily. Keep going until the going gets its own momentum.

Q: What are your plans for next year?

A: To make this event as big as possible through the proper channels and platforms. We need lots of funds and sponsors not only for the event but charity as well. I want to set up a platform for charity. Hopefully, I can do it.

Q: Kuching hosted Miss World Malaysia 2018 for the first time. How did it feel coming here as Mrs Malaysia World 2017?

A: I feel highly empowered, deeply thankful and happy at being invited as a Mrs to attend a Miss pageant. What else could I ask for at 40?

Look at the beautiful side

Harveen said for people who chose to be negative, there would always be criticisms
about beauty contests, adding that people could always try looking at the beautiful side of things.

For instance, she noted, the Mrs World pageant was created over 30 years ago and it draws contestants from over 50 countries to celebrate married women and family values with both glamour and respect.

It was started with lofty and virtuous ideals as an event to recognise the contributions of women to their families, communities and countries.

And now, the Mrs World pageant can rightly include showcasing modern married women who possess style, grace, beauty and intelligence.

Indeed, Mrs World contestants throughout the globe are living testimony to the continuously evolving empowerment of women who strive and achieve balance in their multifaceted lives.