When 20-year-old engineering student Shaima Qassem Abdulrahman was crowned Miss Iraq, she made a point to share the win with those who may be looking up to her. “I call all Iraqi girls to feel this experience,” she said, according to NBC News.
Abdulrahman was one of 150 women who applied for the pageant and the first official Miss Iraq since 1972. The contest’s organizers hoped to use the experience as a chance to “create life in Iraq” after decades of unrest, and the winner said one of the reasons she joined was because the Iraqi people were “badly in need of such cultural activities.” At least two women received death threats for their participation and 15 contestants dropped out.
“I want to prove that the Iraqi woman has her own existence in society, she has her rights like men,” Shaima Qassem Abdulrahman said to NBC News. “I am afraid of nothing, because I am confident that what I am doing is not wrong.”
Wijdan Burhan al-Deen was the last Miss Iraq in 1972, who then went on to represent Iraq at the Miss Universe contest.
Read the full story at ABC News.