Miss Universe 2017 visits the Philippines for the first time

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Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters may be another key player who could strengthen women across the world. Photo by KITKAT PAJARO

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Fifteen beauty queens of the Miss Universe 2017 pageant walk in a Jollibee branch, hand in hand with orphaned girls. The young orphans from the Kanlungan sa Er-Ma Ministry, a non-profit organization based in Malate, shyly smile in awe as the titleholders, all with filled-in eyebrows and porcelain-like teeth, talk to them with glee.

The reigning Miss Universe, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters from South Africa, is particularly excited to be with the orphans, as women and girls’ empowerment is an advocacy she holds dear. “With all the children that we got to spend time with today, I would like to focus on empowering women and children by giving them skills and knowledge on how to overcome difficult situations and how to prevent difficult situations,” she says.

IMG_4617 (1).JPG Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters, Miss Universe 2016 Irish Mittenaere, and Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters posing for selfies with the orphaned girls of Kanlungan sa Er-Ma Ministry. Photo by KITKAT PAJARO

IMG_4604.JPG The reigning Miss Universe, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters from South Africa, is particularly excited to be with the orphans, as women and girls’ empowerment is an advocacy she holds dear. Photo by KITKAT PAJARO

Nel-Peters also recalls the incident of being carjacked and nearly kidnapped, which made her more passionate about supporting women who may find themselves in challenging situations. “I think one’s personal experience has [a real] impact or [will] make you passionate about what you’re standing up for,” she adds.

While the recent #MeToo movement can potentially shape social change and great strides (Saudi Arabia allows women to drive, the widely supported Women’s March on January this year, among many others) have been made for women’s rights, there is still a long way to go.

Nel-Peters, by using the Miss Universe title and network, may be another piece in a gigantic puzzle that could make women across the globe truly and irrevocably whole.