Thu | Oct 6, 2022

Pageant exec reacts to reports of Miss Universe accepting married women

‘We are all for inclusion,’ says McDermoth

Published:Thursday | August 11, 2022 | 12:09 AMAaliyah Cunningham/Gleaner Writer
India’s Harnaaz Sandhu waves after being crowned Miss Universe 2021 during the 70th Miss Universe pageant.
India’s Harnaaz Sandhu waves after being crowned Miss Universe 2021 during the 70th Miss Universe pageant.
Daena Soares, Miss Universe Jamaica 2021, on stage  during the National Costume Show at the Universe Arena in Eilat, Israel on December 10, 2021. The National Costume Show is an international tradition where contestants display an authentic costume of choi
Daena Soares, Miss Universe Jamaica 2021, on stage during the National Costume Show at the Universe Arena in Eilat, Israel on December 10, 2021. The National Costume Show is an international tradition where contestants display an authentic costume of choice that best represents the culture of their home country. Soares’ costume was dubbed ‘St Bess’.
‘It won’t be the same old, same old,’ says Pageant Director, Mark McDermoth
‘It won’t be the same old, same old,’ says Pageant Director, Mark McDermoth
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Co-national director of the Miss Universe Jamaica franchise, Mark McDermoth, says if the Miss Universe Organization decides to adjust its rules to make married women and women with children eligible to compete in what is the oldest international pageant in the world, then Jamaica must, and will, follow suit.

He was speaking to The Gleaner following reports that the organisation has released a memo which addressed the rule change that will take effect for the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in 2023.

“Whatever we do is governed by the rules and whatever else our parent organisation stipulates. So if that [change in regulations] goes through, then it is a policy that we will have to welcome. But I will say that that change impacts tremendously on a lot of other things. So we have to give a lot of thought now and almost redirect our efforts and our programmes. We are all for inclusion, and we are all for a rounded organisation looking for rounded individuals. We have to now think outside of the norm we are accustomed to. It won’t be the same old, same old,” McDermoth said.

Previously, only single women, between 18 and 28, who have never been married or had children were allowed to apply.

Pageant directors around the world have been reacting to the news as reports circulate in the media worldwide.

Josh Yugen, chief executive of Yugen Group and the national director of Miss Universe Bahrain, while speaking to The National, expressed delight at the move for greater inclusivity.

“The Miss Universe Organization is always the greatest and most innovative platform of its kind, and now it will be more inclusive and welcoming to mothers and married women. For me, this is aligned with what I have been fighting for — breaking stereotypes and unlearning the stigma that the old society has forced on us from many, many decades ago,” Yugen said.

As the organisers of Miss Universe Jamaica prepare its first live staging since the pandemic in 2020, they have faced a few challenges that led to rescheduling the coronation for September 3.

According to McDermoth, the new date allows them to do further grooming of the women, as they immerse themselves in activities that he said should benefit them even beyond the pageant.

“We needed a little more time to get the young ladies trained how we want them, and immerse them in some other programmes, so that their experience is enriched. We want to impact them on multiple levels. It is life lessons that we are giving to them, and we want to ensure that what we leave with them serves them even after the pageant, so that they are able to place themselves in corporate Jamaica and out there in world, and present themselves as well-rounded individuals,” McDermoth continued.

This year’s coronation falls within celebrations of Jamaica’s 60th year of Independence and though tight-lipped about how the show will tie in the special occasion, McDermoth says that Jamaicans can look forward to a spectacular show that will celebrate the island’s history and culture.

This year’s finalists are Zara Holmes, Miss Universe Jamaica East; Celine Walters, Miss Universe Jamaica West; Shantana Pitterman, Miss Universe Jamaica Central; Shanté Jarrett, Miss Universe Jamaica North-west; Zasha-Kae Dennis; Toshami Calvin; Rachel Silvera; Brittny Hutchinson; Jillian Taylor; Alecia Spence; Aiysha Hemmings; Kasey Graham; Ysabelle Hughes; Shanique Singh; Thalia Malcolm; Catherine Harris; Pershenia McGann; Tasheka Rowe; Marisa Dixon and Titania Mycko.

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