CGE congratulates Miss South Africa Ms Zozibini Tunzi on winning the Miss Universe crown

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Release Date: 10 December 2019

To: Editors, Producers and Reporters

The CGE wishes to congratulate Ms Zozibini Tunzi on her recent milestone of winning the Miss Universe crown.  Ms Tunzi entered this competition fully aware of the impact she might have on young African girls. Her achievement is not only a dream for herself but also for an African child. Her win will serve as an inspiration for other girls who aspire to reach greatness. It is commendable how Ms Tunzi has used this platform to challenge the narrative on beauty. In an interview with Drum magazine she said: “I came into this competition with my natural hair as a symbol of my firm belief in being yourself.”

She continued in this vein when during the competition she encouraged young girls to take up space. Her comments are important not only for young girls but for women, she said: “I think one of the most important things we should be teaching young girls today is leadership. It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time – not because we don’t want to but because of what society has labelled women to be. I think we are the most powerful beings in the world, and that we should be given every opportunity. And that is what we should be teaching these young girls – to take up space. Nothing as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.”

Not only has Ms Tunzi been pushing for the empowerment of young girls and women she has been putting action behind her words. Her campaign has been trying to promote discussions about gender violence among men. The campaign, although not without criticism, should be commended for trying to find innovative ways of turning men into gender activists.

“South Africa is in dire need of activists like Ms Tunzi who are trying to find ways to put the issue of gender violence and women leadership in the spotlight. In a country where men perpetrate abominable and despicable acts of violence against women and children and the high levels of femicide, it is imperative that the discourse begins to focus on building women’s agency through leadership and other similar women’s empowerment programmes.” says Mme Tamara Mathebula, the Chairperson of the Commission foe Gender Equality. Violence is not only physical and emotional,

as Ms Tunzi well-understands it, it is structural where women are not recognised, where they are inhibited and silenced. Her campaign on gender rightfully addresses the issue of beauty because as black women know all too well the standard of beauty needs to be challenged at every turn.

Ms Tunzi’s achievement comes timeously during the end of 16 days campaign of no violence against women and children and it comes with a positive and inspiring message. Ms Tunzi is not only a symbol of beauty but that of leadership, courage and activism. We wish her well in her reign.

Issued by: Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)