Despite the current tourist ban, the 70th annual Miss Universe pageant will host 80 participants in Eilat on December 12. The pageant will be televised in 174 countries, and with tradition, will judge contestants on swimwear, evening gowns, national costumes, and a short interview. Half of the participants have already arrived, and have met with many of Israel’s leading women.
While the global pageant is an important connection point for Israel, the Israel Women’s Network and a host of other collaborators wanted to use the global attention to invite a different kind of beauty into the conversation. In stark contrast to the typical judge of appearance, personality, and interests, the ‘Miss Fix the Universe’ pageant was set up for the same dates to take place in Eilat.
The website states that “the attention focused on Eilat represents a great opportunity for us to spotlight the beauty generated by social activities in Israel and the women who are working to Fix the Universe. This is our chance to illuminate feminist activism and to show our appreciation for the women among us who have the power to make a difference.”
The event, initiated only a month prior to production, has already collected over 160 nominations for activists, entrepreneurs, and founding women working to support human rights, sustainability, democracy, and equality. The public is invited to vote on the projects and the top 15 women-run projects will take the stage in Abraham Hostel in hopes of getting funding for their project. In addition to exposing the world to the wide range of social projects that women are working on in Israel, Ella Alkalai, Chairwoman of the IWN, hopes that this event will initiate a shift in how the media engages with women’s topics. Founded in 1984, the IWN advocates for gender equality and the inclusion of women.
“Now the media only spotlights standout events; for example, November 25 is the day for the ‘Elimination of Violence Against Women’. Yet if something happens the day after, there is zero interest. People would prefer to look at women in bathing suits, not activists. We’d much rather focus on the beauty, and avoid the problems of the world…Miss Universe expects 600 million viewers. I hope next year, 600 million people choose to watch social change, and that every country will choose to support and spotlight their leading women.”
Despite both kinds of pageants, there is still controversy surrounding hosting in Israel. The current Miss Universe Andrea Meza from Mexico believes that the pageant is not about politics and made the intention clear. “Everyone with different beliefs, with different backgrounds, with different cultures, they all come together and when you are in there you forget about politics, about your religion. It’s just about embracing other women.”
Learn more at Miss Fix the Universe.