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NEWS / 2 DECEMBER 2017, 11:05AM / KARISHMA DIPA
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters hopes to inspire children to reach their own dreams.
A MISS Universe who overcame her fears and helped other women overcome theirs. That's how Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters wants to be remembered.
This week, South Africans swelled with pride when the 22-year-old beat beauties from around the world to be crowned this year's Miss Universe.
Apart from the glittering tiara, Nel-Peters will live in a luxury New York City apartment during her reign, be paid a year-long salary as Miss Universe and will have some of the best fashion and beauty items and services at her disposal.
But although a life of luxury and opulence awaits the BCom graduate who hails from Sedgefield in the Western Cape, she insists she wants to use her Miss Universe platform to empower women around the world.
“I want to be remembered as a Miss Universe who overcame her fears and helped other women overcome theirs.”
Nel-Peters plans on achieving this by using her Unbreakable campaign internationally. The initiative saw her travelling around the country to educate women on how to deal with traumatic experiences both physically and emotionally.
She started it after she was robbed of her cellphone at gunpoint in Joburg about six months ago during an attempted hijacking.
“Every person has a choice in every situation and I decided not to be a victim of crime and to not allow myself to be crippled with fear,” she says.
“This is why I started Unbreakable.
"I wanted to teach women the self-defence skills I learnt during a course I participated in.”
Her programme is more than a physical handbook on how to deal with crime.
“I wanted to teach women how to think during such a situation and how to defend themselves emotionally.”
As she is expected to spend a large portion of the next year abroad, she hopes to continue teaching these skills to women in different countries.
“I want to use the Miss Universe platform to empower women around the world because it's not only those in South Africa who encounter traumatic experiences.”
Nel-Peters believes campaigns like the 16 Days of Activism are crucial.
“Crime against the vulnerable individuals of society is a worldwide problem and as women, we need to know how to defend ourselves both physically and emotionally.”
Unity, she believes, is the tool to deal with violence against women and children.
“If women around the world stand together, we can be unbreakable.
"We're stronger together than we are apart.”
Apart from using her personal pain to help others, Nel-Peters credits her new-found strength with helping her clinch the Miss Universe title.
“It definitely made me stronger, able to deal with whatever life throws at me.”
She now encourages people from all walks of life to follow her example and use their own personal struggles to better themselves and others.
“I hope I can inspire every little boy and girl to reach their own dreams.”
The Saturday Star
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