Miss Universe Head Confirms: Mothers, Married Women Can Now Compete

Mothers, married and divorced women will now be allowed to compete at Miss Universe, the pageant's organization has confirmed.

Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, said the decision to ease the eligibility requirements stemmed from their intention to make the pageant more inclusive to women despite their backgrounds and civil status.

READ: Why are Filipinos Obsessed with Miss Universe?

"We did not want to be in a position where we felt we were precluding someone from competing if they felt they could handle that job," Shugart said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

"So if you know what the job description is, which we are really going to make sure everyone is aware of, then you need to be able to handle that job as Miss Universe, whether they have a family or not," she added.

For the past 70 years, Miss Universe has only allowed 18 to 28-year-old single women to join the pageant. The contestants must also not have been married, annulled, or borne a child.


While mothers, married and divorced women can now join the pageant, they should still meet the age requirement of 18 to 28 years old, the ABS-CBN report said. 

"When we started, we were an outlet for women really to start having a voice. And now women are able to have families, they're able to have a job, they're able to be a spokesperson. We should not be the ones to say 'No you can't do this,'" Shugart also said.

Pageant websites earlier reported the new rules at Miss Universe, citing an alleged memo from the organization saying that the changes in the eligibility requirements would apply in the competition's 72nd edition.

The Miss Universe Organization has yet to formally announce the new changes in the pageant's rules.

In 2012, the Miss Universe Organization allowed transgender women to compete provided that they won in their national pageants. Angela Ponce of Spain became the first transgender woman to join Miss Universe in 2018, the title eventually won by Philippines' Catriona Gray.

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The 71st Miss Universe pageant is expected to be held in January 2023. At least 67 contestants, including Philippines' Celeste Cortesi, will compete for the crown to be passed on by current titleholder Harnaaz Sandhu of India.


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