Tonight, women from 90 countries and territories competed in the Miss Universe pageant in the hopes of taking home this year’s crown. The event, hosted at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, was overseen by a panel of seven female judges.
Here’s what you need to know about Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019.
1. She Is Engaged in the Fight Against Gender-Based Violence
Tunzi’s Miss Universe bio reads, “Zozibini Tunzi is a passionate activist and engaged in the fight against gender-based violence. She has devoted her social media campaign to changing the narrative around gender stereotypes.”
In November, the 26-year-old asked South African men to write love letters to women to help form part of her National costume section at the Miss Universe pageant. She launched her support to promote the UN’s #HeForShe campaign.
In the words of The South African, “The campaign aims to mobilize men as allies in the struggle against Gender-based violence and the creation of an equal society for all.” The Miss South Africa winner said she hoped to shift the perception about gender-based violence. Zozibini is quoted as saying, “Women are constantly being taught how to defend themselves against attack from men. I would like to shift the perception. I want to say that that responsibility should no longer rest on the shoulders of women alone. I want the men of our nation to stand and take a stand against gender-based violence.”
On Women’s Day, Tunzi shared a similarly powerful message about what being a woman means to her. IOL quotes her as saying, “The misconception about women empowerment is that it means giving power to women; that isn’t its purpose – women already have the power, women empowerment is about enhancing and encouraging those deep reservoirs of power.”
2. She Was Raised in the Village of Sidwadweni
Tunzi was born in Tsolo, Eastern Cape. She was raised in the village of Sidwadweni along with her three sisters.
After moving to Cape Town, she settled down in the Gardens suburbs.
Tunzi says her role models are her parents. She tells the Sierra Leone Times, “My mother taught me the importance of being kind and humble and always helpful to those around me and my father taught me the importance of an education, hard work and discipline.”
When she isn’t working or training for pageants, Tunzi tells Miss South Africa she enjoys snuggling up with her favorite television show. She jokes, “When I like to pretend I’m doing something productive, I will go hiking.”
3. She Is an Advocate for Natural Beauty
On social media, Zozibini encourages natural beauty.
In an interview on the Expresso Show, Tunzi was asked, “You are now an icon; the poster for African natural beauty. A lot of people look up to you. Is that a heavy burden to carry?” The model responded, “It’s not too heavy because it’s just who I am naturally. It just comes naturally; I don’t feel like I have to pretend.”
She continued, “I don’t feel like I have to pretend or be that person that they think I am, and so it’s quite wonderful that people look at it that way and feel that they’re comfortable with who they are.”
According to Miss SA 2019, she is a hard-core Marvel fan and a Game of Thrones addict.
4. She Earned Her Graduate Degree in Public Relations Management
After moving to Cape Town, Tunzi attended Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and image management in 2018.
Before she won the Miss South Africa title, she was completing a Bachelor of Technology graduate degree in Public Relations at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
In an interview with SABC after being crowned Miss South Africa earlier this year, Tunzi admitted that social media has been a huge challenge for her on her pageantry journey. “I’m not very big on social media. So for the first time, I had to open myself up to people. That meant that I was open for judgment, to cyber-bullying… for me, that was the toughest part about it.”
5. Tunzi Started Her Pageant Career in 2017
Tunzi’s pageantry career kicked off in 2017, after being accepted as part of the top 26 at Miss South Africa 2017.
Two months into her reign as Miss South Africa, Tunzi was asked if the weight of her platform had sunk in. She responded, “Finally, I think I can say it has sunk in. A month ago, not so much– you’re just introduced to this new world overnight. Your life changes like that.”
She went on to say that apart from moving cities, walking outside and having people recognize you was one of the biggest changes she experienced.