Empowering women with disabilities
By Nadhirah Sofea Rashid
Empowerment is a common term now being used by many social activists and communities.
Now to take it a step further, its not just about women empowerment but empowering women with disabilities.
In some cases, women with disabilities are sometimes less likely to be treated like other women.
To some employers, these women are not suitable for employment or training.
Many are given menial jobs and usually not in the front line. They are not given a chance to explore their full capabilities.
Disabled women are born with a different types of strength and unique skills.
We often see beauty pageants being held internationally and locally, with the aim of the contest being to highlight women's inner and outer beauty.
Now, we have beauty pageants for women with disabilities too.
Miss Amazing Malaysia is the first beauty pageant in Malaysia specifically for women with differences such as down syndrome, autism, lupus, vitiligo, and other disorders.
Organised by Amazing Girls Solution, it is an unconventional attempt at redefining beauty pageants and provide a platform for women with differences.
Miss Amazing Malaysia founder and national director Maynicca Dewi Rajamanikam told Youth Connect that this pageant will give them the opportunity to take on new challenges and learn from industry professionals involved in trainings, fashion design, beauty brands, catwalk and modelling agencies.
There will also be other relevant self-development programmes for women to participate in.
"It occurred to me that not all women have access to these platforms, especially those who are differently-abled," said Maynicca, who is also the first runner-up of this year’s Mrs India Worldwide Malaysia.
Maynicca also reminded Malaysians to recognise that there are great potentials within each differently-abled women.
"It is our duty, as a progressive society, to empower them to fully realise it.
"Miss Amazing Malaysia is aimed at providing opportunities for women with differences to build confidence in a supportive and fun environment.
"I believe that the pageant can bring these individuals together and promote further inclusion for these beautiful women with special needs," she added.
A mother to one of the contestants Hanizan Hussin said Malaysia should have more platforms like this.
"These girls, they are unique in various ways. They just need a platform to shine.
"Just like my daughter Wan Alya Azri, who has been doing well since she joined Miss Amazing Malaysia. She has more confidence in herself now. She can now talk confidently in public," she said.
Hanizan added that the Malaysian mentality needed to change towards differently-abled people.
"Maybe it's time for our people to change the perception towards disabled people. They can have many more powerful skills than others. They should be given more chances and opportunities."
This unique pageant was open to Malaysian women between the ages 18 and 36 and the audition was held at LOKA Malaysia in Petaling Jaya last October.
During the following five months, the contestants were also given training on modeling, cat walk and public speaking.
The contestants were also evaluated for their attendance, commitment, participation and transformation.
At the finals on March 9, they were required to do a catwalk and give a performance.
Here are the winners for the Miss Amazing Malaysia:
Champion: Sofia Lovi Ramasamy
1st Runner Up: Nurhana Md Yusof
2nd Runner Up: Nor Athira Sujino