Haryana is tagged as one of India’s most notorious states when it comes to women’s condition and their progress. It has an abysmal sex ratio of 879 and female foeticide is still practised rampantly across the state. Home to a series of honour killings, rapes and molestation, women in Haryana have often been subdued.
Despite this, Haryana has time and again projected women on the international front, with wrestler Sakshi Malik, ace shuttler Saina Nehwal and revered astronaut Kalpana Sharma all hailing from the state. And now 20-year-old Manushi Chhillar has been crowned the new Miss World.
After 17 years, an Indian has won this crown which has previously been claimed by the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai, Diana Haydon and Yukta Mookhey. The ’90s had marked India’s glorious time in beauty pageants with six representatives bagging the Miss World and Miss Universe titles.
Chhillar, a medical student from Haryana, has made the country proud. Her victory must be used as a pedestal to capitalise on the cause of women’s empowerment, especially in Haryana where progress on this front has been the slowest. Chhillar, as her social initiative, had adopted the cause of menstrual hygiene which is amiss in India’s rural areas, where it is still a tabooed subject and women lack the adequate knowledge of their body’s well-being.
Beauty pageants can also be a platform that propels social service by promoting dedicated causes that plague today’s world economies. Chhillar’s face would be a reminder to the families in Haryana that the woman can be as powerful as the man provided she is provided with the correct nourishment and platform to adequately access equal rights.
Women’s empowerment is a plaguing concern for India even today, and victories such as these ought to reinforce action towards building an equal society for women. Beauty without service would dim India’s glory on this platform.