Miss SA Lalela Lali Mswane has released a statement as she prepares to represent the country at the 70th Miss Universe competition in Eilat, Israel.
Mswane and Miss SA organisation courted controversy as they insisted on participating in the pageant, despite growing calls for Mswane to snub the event in solidarity with Palestine.
Earlier this month, the South African government has withdrawn its support for the Miss SA pageant after unsuccessful talks with the Miss SA pageant organisers.
“The atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians are well documented and the government, as the legitimate representative of the people of South Africa, cannot in good conscience associate itself with such,” the government said in a statement.
“I stand today as an empowered woman because of so many before me who fought for our voices to be heard. I feel my duty is to do the same for the women of the past, the women of today and the women to come,” said Miss SA in the statement released on Saturday.
“There is no greater time to shed light on issues affecting women, to choose courage over comfort and to be steadfast in my beliefs regarding the advancement of women and our rights.”
Miss SA said she views her participation in the pageant as a “unique opportunity” to contribute to a process of dialogue and peace.