“We just need to find our place and cement that.”
Pamela Uba made headlines last year when she became the first black woman to be crowned Miss Ireland, a title that she couldn’t accept lightly.
Before she heads to Puerto Rico to represent Ireland at Miss World, the Galway native sits down with Her to tell us just how much the honour means to her.
“I can’t believe it,” she says. “It means a lot because it means that my little sister or some other young girl or boy out there will look up and know that they are represented too, as an Irish person of a different ethnicity.
“Even though you look different, you are a part of this society and you can contribute in some way or somehow.”
Before the Miss World competition on St. Patrick’s Day, International Women’s Day will be celebrated – a day that has a special meaning for Pamela.
While the world of pageantry may not be its first association, Pamela says that celebrating women and their achievements is the driving force behind pageants these days.
“It’s a perfect example of women empowerment, because International Women’s Day is all about uplifting our women, seeing what they’ve done and and celebrating [us] for the wonderful, powerful women we are,” she says.
“And that is the same thing that applies in pageantry, it’s not all about the beauty aspect. These are women that come from different backgrounds, they have different hardships, different struggles that they’ve gone through… and yet they have overcome that and still made it to where they are.
“We have lawyers, we have artists, we have doctors, we have a very broad spectrum of women doing incredible things for their communities. Even for myself, I champion children’s advocacy and helping children and families, especially in migrant families across Ireland to support them through education, through housing, through food.
“We have so much that we can offer to the world and we just need to find our place and cement that.”
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But for Pamela personally, it means just as much. On her own experience of the day, she gives a humbling description.
“[It’s] celebrating your awesomeness, that’s the simplest way to put it,” she says. “I come from a long generation of incredible women and I’m literally a product. If my mom and my grandparents are the roots of a tree, I’m the extension, the branches and everything I do, it’s through that, it’s for them and it’s for the women to come after me. International Women’s Day means a lot to me and celebrating who I am and where we’re going.”
International Women’s Day this year is focused about sustainability and the impact of climate change, with the UN announcing the theme as ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.’
In a world of fashion and beauty, it can be tricky to keep on top of this, but for Pamela, ensuring her wardrobe is as sustainable as she can make it is a top priority.
“Obviously being in the pageant world, we probably go through a lot of clothes,” she says. “So I try to be a bit more conscious in my selections of what I’m wearing, how it’s harming the environment.
“One of the brands that I really love, and it’s a female brand and an Irish woman, is Aoife Ireland. I love them because they are very conscious of what they’re doing and what they’re putting out there and how it can help the environment.
“I’ve been wearing her clothes since season one to this current season. And I think what she’s doing is amazing. It’s slow fashion. It’s sustainable. She really looks at where she’s sourcing her materials for clothing and the clothes are fabulous.”