The annual ‘Miss Eastern Cape: Beauty with a Purpose’ returns in the month of December 2017 in full swing. It is the biggest and fastest growing beauty pageant in the Eastern Cape with its impact being felt not only by those who take part in it, but also by its spectators from all around the province.

Miss Eastern Cape: Beauty with A Purpose does not only give young women a platform to showcase their talents, but also aims to change their lives forever and the lives of others in the disadvantaged communities they come from. It is no coincidence that the programme falls within the 16 Days of Activism against Women and Child Abuse, as its founder and organiser, Zikhona Ngxata postulates. Her passion for women empowerment is fuelled by the many social ills that young women are faced with, especially in the EC.

Zikhona says Miss Eastern Cape is more than a mere pageant, but a holistic programme aimed at eliminating the scourge of teenage pregnancy, HIV / AIDS spread, Gender Based Violence and many others. “We developed the programme to help get young people off the streets and equip them with knowledge and practical skills, create role models out of them for others to look up to and ultimately contribute towards change in their communities. We could not just sit back and do nothing”, she reasoned.

Young women entering the pageant get to be given community development tasks to execute as part of the selection and elimination process. These tasks are aligned to their unique creative abilities for easier execution and implementation. This guarantees them a chance to influence people’s lives in those communities they’re assigned to even if they do not win the Miss EC crown. Ngxata revealed that the 2016 Miss EC winner is completing her LLB Degree, and also the previous Second Princess is currently completing her Degree in Medicine; both winners are funded through the Miss Eastern Cape: Beauty with A Purpose programme. “It is about creating and instilling values, assisting them discover their true purpose with long term and sustainable impact, hence it is called ‘Beauty with a Purpose’.

(Miss Eastern Cape founder and organiser, Zikhona Ngxata)

The targeted group is between the ages of 18 – 27 which is the period where most women are more vulnerable to Gender Based Violence, HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy to mention just a few. The programme develops an empowerment week whereby the contestants get exposed to a holistic learning programme. Under this programme, professionals such as social workers, psychologists, entrepreneurs and academics deliver presentations and advice in an attempt to mentor, support, motivate and inspire them. It is a crucial part of their journey as it gives a platform to these young women to talk about issues that affect them emotionally, mentally, and physically daily.

Miss Eastern Cape: Beauty with a Purpose is mainly sponsored by the Eastern Cape Gambling & Betting Board. On behalf of the Gambling & Betting Board, Pumeza George expressed her excitement for them to be sponsoring the programme. “We enter into strategic partnerships in attempt to impact socio-economic well beings of our beloved Eastern Cape citizens. We have a moral responsibility to promote responsible and licensed gambling as we acknowledge that irresponsible gambling forms part of the many social ills”, she further explained. “The winners of Miss Eastern Cape: Beauty with a Purpose programme partner with the organisation to become the official ambassadors for responsible gambling”. The organisation has a series of events they sponsor in their quest to promote their message in the province, and is thereby determined to giving back to the community through such programmes.

Ngxata notes that for the next five years they wish to realise reduced numbers of young women directly affected by social ills in statistical evidence. She also asserted the biggest challenges in the formation of the programme. Financial sponsorship is the biggest challenge they encounter as they were forced to cut out teenage participation in this year’s programme. “It was a very difficult decision, but we were forced to close our doors to teenage contestants due to financial constraints”. She also argued that stereotypes around beauty pageants are still prevalent in society. “People still view beauty pageants as not having much significance in the lives of other people”, she concurs.

All of the stereotypes stem from traditional and or religious beliefs which many people, including those in the corporate space hinder efforts to access financial support to the programme. These are some of the many challenges that the programme encounters leading up to its execution.

 Miss Eastern Cape: Beauty with a Purpose takes place on 9 December at Hemingways Casino. Tickets available at Computicket.

 

By Sibulelo Sofe

 

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