Nigerian beauty queen pledges better life for girl child

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The newly crowned Miss Nigeria Great Britain Queen, Mary Dinah, says she is passionate about making life better for the girl child in Africa.

Dinah promised to eliminate hunger, illiteracy among others as a means of actualising the ‘Zero Hunger,’ United Nations Sustainable Development Goal.

Speaking with journalists in Lagos, South-west Nigeria, the beauty queen, who is also the Chief Executive officerof Seattle Residences and Spa and Founder of Mary Dinah Foundation, an international NGO, promised to use her new elevated status to make a positive impact on enhancing the lives of the girl child in Africa.

Dinah, who won the Miss Nigeria Great Britain Crown for 2019, in the beauty contest held at the Angle Villa Hotel Lekki, Lagos on August 10, explained her focus will be on alleviating hunger and poverty by feeding poor children in Africa with school lunches with the support of her foundation ‘Food for Thought’.

I have a big responsibility to use everything I have achieved to make a big impact on society. However, I have chosen zero hunger as my main area of focus.”

On her passion to drive the vision through, she said: “Whenever I eat, I think of children who are hungry and have nothing to eat.

“In the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, food is identified as a basic human need together with light, air and water. Before we discuss safety or self actualisation, we have to critically analyse the issue of hunger or else we would not be alive.

“For me, that is the most important cause and I am looking forward to ensuring that children and those in schools have food and not go hungry.” She said

Before being crowned a beauty pageant, she had identified unemployment and gender inequality as two key areas that needs urgent attention in the country which she said she had been working on to finding solutions to in the past.

“The unemployment rate in Nigeria is in a dire state. We have total unemployment at about 23 percent with youth unemployment heading towards 50 percent and female unemployment which people barely look at is edging towards 50 percent as well.

“That is to say in every 10 women you meet, five are unemployed. It is a very critical situation and has to be given urgent attention.”

On gender inequality, she said: “In the northeast we have young girls being kidnapped from school as well as stopped altogether from going to schools, a position we must continue to fight against. She noted

The beauty queen also noted with concern the figure of unemployment in the country.

“I believe there are five million girls out of school, a figure much higher than anywhere else in the world. Honestly, there is something we are not doing right.”

“I strongly believe that our solution to this problem begins when we all come together as one Nigeria without tribal or religious segmentation to solve this problem nationally.

“Currently what we see is fragments of regions in the country that are moving forward and others that are lagging behind.”  She revealed.

She noted that Nigeria in general and Lagos, in particular, has a huge potential for tourism.

She pledged to support the development of the sector.

“I believe Lagos is a beautiful state and should be seen as a megacity.

“It has not yet gotten a global frontier like Miami, London, and Paris. I have visited those cities and thought they are nice Lagos has a beauty and uniqueness like now where else.

” On her background and how it helped her win the beauty pageant, Dinah said: “I grew up partly in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom but had always said if I would participate in a beauty pageant it would be Miss Nigeria because this is where I was born and my parents are from here.

“I definitely was proud to represent my state – Lagos state. The night of the award was beautiful and magical as I was graced with friends and family and the audience cheering for me while on stage.

“We had various categories such as casual wear and traditional wear to showcase.

“However, I had designed my traditional outfit. My mom’s family is from Niger State and I wanted an outfit that would be a fusion between the South West and the North Central.

“I designed an ‘Ashoke’ outfit with a short skirt and crop top, mixed with some beads and carried a calabash which made it more colourful and the perfect fusion between Fulani and Yoruba style. I was very happy.”

She that explained her passion to support humanity dated back to her childhood but got serious expression in 2014 when she established, The Mary Dinah Foundation.

The foundation, she said, has been successful in other youth benevolence programs including Job-Link which was Nigeria’s first every jobcentre and connected over 10,000 people to work.

Mary Dinah has received numerous awards for her contribution to society including the Vice Chancellors Award at University of Surrey, Governors Award in Lagos State, Social Impact Award (2017) and Future Leaders Award (2018) with the British Council.

Speaking more on her background, she added: “Prior the foundation, I have acquired over 15 years of hospitality experience with luxury hotel brands such as Hilton, Marriott, Four Seasons, Le Meridien and Sheraton.

“I am the founder of M.A.D hospitality which manages five star boutique hotels including Seattle Residences and Spa, she stated.

“My academic profile is extensive and includes BSc Computer Science from University of Nottingham, MSc International Hotel Management from University of Surrey (Distinction), Post Graduate Degree in Global Business from University of Oxford (Distinction) and post graduate certificate in entrepreneurship form Harvard University (Distinction).

“I am also a United Nations Fellow and acquired a post graduate degree from the United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR) in Geneva, Switzerland

“However, I enjoy horse riding, clay pigeon shooting, squash and traveling the world.  She disclosed

Rahila L.