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Pakistan's first Miss Universe contestant wants women to be able to participate in any field 'without being judged'

On Sep 14, 24-year-old Erica Robin was crowned the first-ever Miss Universe Pakistan. Organised by Dubai-based Yugen Group, the competition was held in the Maldives and featured five contestants from the country.

Robin, who is Christian and from the city of Karachi, will now represent Pakistan at the 72nd Miss Universe pageant which will be held in El Salvador on Nov 18. 

Robin has since received both backlash and praise, following her win. Her detractors hail mostly from the conservative space, including Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan from the Jamaat-e-Islami party who posted on social media platform X: “It is shameful to prepare young women for the Miss Universe pageant and to organise Miss Pakistan pageants.

“Who has authorised them to represent Pakistan? (Caretaker premier) Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar should immediately clarify the position of his government and stop this ridicule and humiliation of Pakistani women in the name of beauty pageants.”

On the other hand, Robin’s supporters include journalist Mariana Babar who posted: “Way to go Erica, let nothing stop you.”

In an interview with the BBC, Robin said: “It feels great to represent Pakistan. But I don’t understand where the backlash is coming from. I think it is this idea that I would be parading in a swimsuit in a room full of men.”

In the meantime, Erica Robin has not let the backlash slow her down and is now using her newfound platform to speak up for Pakistan and women’s issues in general.

She recounted to the BBC that she was asked to name what she wanted to do for her country during the second round of selections for the pageant, to which she replied, “I would want to change this mindset that Pakistan is a backward country.”

When asked by CNN Philippines about the things she wanted to highlight on the global stage, Robin replied: “I have two advocacies. (The) first is education for women. (The) second is anti-gender bias.

“I am a working model in Pakistan. And I want every woman to participate in (male-dominated professions)… I really want women to go out there and speak (up) for themselves and whatever their interests are. Just participate without being judged and being told that this is not your field.”

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