South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe 2019 on Sunday night.
The 26-year-old beauty queen beat out 89 other contestants during the pageant held in Atlanta.
Her Miss Universe biography describes her as a “passionate activist” who is “engaged in the fight against gender based violence.”
“She has devoted her social media campaign to changing the narrative around gender stereotypes. She is a proud advocate for natural beauty and encourages women to love themselves the way they are,” the bio says.
Miss Puerto Rico Madison Anderson was the first runner up and Miss Mexico Sofia Aragon was the second runner-up.
The final three were asked on-stage: “What is the most important thing you should be teaching young girls today?”
Clad in a striking gold and silver gown, Tunzi answered: “leadership.”
“It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time … because of what society has labeled women to be,” she said.
“I think we are the most powerful beings in the world, and that we should be given every opportunity, and that is what we should be teaching these young girls, to take up space,” Tunzi continued.
“Nothing is as important as taking up space in the society and cementing yourself.”
Zozibini graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and image management from Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in 2018. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Technology graduate degree in public relations, also at Cape Peninsula, shortly before winning Miss South Africa. She held an internship during grad school in the PR department of Ogilvy Cape Town.
She competed for Miss South Africa twice. Zozibini made it into the top 26 contestants in Miss South Africa 2017, but was eliminated. She came back two years later, and won.
She is the third woman from South Africa to win the title, and the first black woman since Leila Lopes was crowned Miss Universe 2011.