Miss World: The rules banning mums taking part are 'discriminatory'

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Veronika Didusenko and her son
Veronika Didusenko has a five-year-old son

“The entry requirements for Miss World are discriminatory… there is no place for them in the 21st Century.”

Model Veronika Didusenko, 24, was crowned Miss Ukraine 2018 – but she had her title taken away when organisers found out she was a mum.

The rules of the competition ban anyone from taking part in the Miss World franchise if they’ve got children.

Now Veronika, who has a five-year-old son, has decided to take legal action against the contest over its policy.

“I want to change them, challenge them. I want to make sure the rules of Miss World move with the times,” she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“I want to make them more fit for nowadays and reflect women’s reality today – who can perfectly balance between their careers and their personal life.”

Veronika says she entered Miss Ukraine to raise her charity’s profile and was surprised when she was crowned the winner.

She would’ve gone on to represent her country at the Miss World contest – but four days later she was disqualified.

“It was humiliating and insulting for me,” she says

“I felt so bad because it’s not just my story, it’s the story of thousands of women around the world who maybe want to take part but I don’t have the possibility to enter because they are mothers.”

Veronika admits she saw the rule on the application form, but says she had been encouraged to enter by the organisers.

Media captionVeronika Didusenko was stripped of her title because she has a child

“Why should a woman be excluded from entering, just because she’s a mother? It doesn’t make any sense.

“Being a mum doesn’t have any implication on my ability to be professional or be a successful model or do my job.

“So those rules didn’t make any sense to me.”

The chair and CEO of the Miss World Organisation, Julia Morley, was questioned about the rule in an interview in 2018.

“When you’re trying to get a worldwide organisation to agree, you have to look to everyone and they vote as to what is acceptable,” she told Good Morning Britain.

“Whatever I feel or whatever Europe feels is one thing, what the rest of the world may feel when they’ve got to look at their various religions and various things…

“If you can understand we don’t just have our own feelings, we have to consider others. So what we try to do is get a balance.”

And in 2014, the director of the Miss England competition, Angie Beasley, said it would be tough for winners to split their attention between the role and being a mum.

“It is both unfair on the child and her family to take the mother away from home for the year whilst she travels the globe helping charity causes for children,” she said in a statement to ITV.

“It raises issues about who would take care of the child/children whose mother was fortunate to win.”

But Veronika says her son is a “nicely developed boy” and the reason is because he’s been travelling around the world with her for her career.

“He has seen so many countries in his age. From my perspective he is so much more developed than other kids.

“So the argument of Miss World that they’re worried about children’s welfare… is absolutely for me it’s nonsense.”

Veronika says she hopes taking legal action will make Miss World change their rule. The competition takes place this year in London on 14 December.

She’s being represented by human rights lawyer Ravi Naik who alleges that under the Equality Act 2010, the entry policy is discriminatory.

“I want Miss World to change those rules to make beauty pageants inclusive for everyone,” says Veronika.

“Because inclusive competitions can help to break gender stereotypes, create professional opportunities for contestants and can help to empower women.

“For example, fashion houses regularly include pregnant women, plus-size women and models of all ages, for their catwalks and runways.

“So beauty pageants need to follow their lead and celebrate all of the women equally.”

Newsbeat has contacted Miss World to see if they wish to respond.

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