By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
The reigning Most Gorgeous Girl in Nigeria, Queen Ruqayyah Adeboye, has said she will focus her attention on initiating life-changing projects to benefit thousands of poor and vulnerable people in the country.
She said this during an interview with journalists in Abuja weekend.
According to her, the MGGN is a platform to project and reinforce her work for the attainment of quality education, water and sanitation as well as decent work and economic growth for all Nigerians as enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She said, “As the most gorgeous girl in Nigeria, I am passionate about executing projects that would touch the lives of others especially those at the grassroots level.
“It is not all about going to orphanage homes. Most beauty queens are known for reaching out to orphanages to share food items and that is it which does not have a long time impact.
“What I look at is how to impact the lives of individuals. My passion is to execute projects that are sustainable. I am also an advocate for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“So, my project is focusing on SDGs 4 which is education, SDGs 5 which is gender equality, SDGs 6.2 which is sanitation and clean water and SDGs 8 which is decent work and economic growth.
“We have been executing projects relating to SDGs 6 and 8 so far in Borno State. We have empowered young minds. We taught them how to make liquid soap and vaseline.
“We have Almajirai a lot and you see them coming with dry skins and smelling.
“We feel like teaching them how to make those things to help them curb whatever they are facing.
“So, it is decent work and economic growth because they cannot only use this for themselves but they will also sell it out and make profit.
“It is a long term plan. It is not a one-time initiative. We are also looking at quality education. We are looking at partnering with the Kaduna and Kano States government to implement it.
“They have already sent us an email that we requested for a meeting.
“We are also organising a programme in Ibadan, Oyo State during the commissioning of the national museum on August 20.
“It is about inspiring young minds and to showcase their skills and talents in different arts. We want them to start thinking innovatively.”
On her plans for out-of-school children, she said: “We have collaborated with some organisations to sponsor about 50 young girls through primary, secondary schools and university.
“I see pageantry as a platform to boost my advocacy. Now is an opportunity to widen my plans and write all the things that I need.”
Recounting how she was able to change the narrative about women being second fiddles to men in the society, the beauty queen explained: “I remember a time I saw a flyer on MGGN, I was elated and I saw it as an opportunity to change the narrative about pageantry.
“In my school then, females were discouraged from contesting any leadership position in the Students Union Government (SUG). I was the first junior student to actually vie for a position against my seniors.
“And because I am a law student, there is a lot of seniority. I broke that record. I felt it was another chance to change the narrative that Muslim girls can participate without conforming to anything they do not want to do.
“I went for it, registered and made my researches. One of the things that impressed me was that MGGN is not interested in ladies wearing swimsuits.
“Because even the Miss Universe contest you see them wearing swimsuits and exposing themselves.
“I did not feel comfortable wearing it and MGGN supported me. It enabled me to convince my family. It is not against my religion or culture or my personal values,” narrated.
According to her, “There are risk everywhere. But if we keep running away from certain things that need to be done, we will never go anywhere.
“That is why I feel like the objective of establishing any beauty pageant is to show that you could actually do things for yourself without relying on any person whether it is the opposite gender or your fellow gender.
“So, this organisation encourages us to reach out to philanthropists, organisations and governments to partner with to execute projects.
“And not an individual that would require us to do things that we do not want to do.
“This is why we inspire other women that pageantry does not mean that they would have to conform to things they do not want before getting what they want.”
Queen Rukayyah, nonetheless, advise women to take both practical and legal actions against men who perpetrate sexual and gender based violence against them.
She said, “Being an advocate against gender based violence, I understand that a lot of men and women face this problem especially women.
“We have been sensitizing women on different forms of domestic violence.
“Last year, we had a programme relating to that. We taught young girls how to defend themselves.
“We taught them how to make and use pepper spray. Some of them go out to read at night without knowing what will happen.
“So, we made them to understand that having a pepper spray is a step towards protecting themselves.
“We taught them how to use it wisely and responsibly. They were also taught on how to seek legal redress,” she said.