Brains and compassion: Five beauty queens who helped in making the world a better place

Arif Zikri
(From left) Deborah Priya Henry, Dr Bhasha Mukhrejee and Pia Wurtzbach, all of them are more than just a pretty face and they’ve proven it to the world. — Picture from Instagram/ Deborah Priya Henry, Pia Wurtzbach and Dr Bhasha Mukhrejee

KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 ― Former Miss Universe Malaysia Samantha Katie James caused outrage over her remarks about the Black Lives Matter movement recently.

It has also inadvertently brought focus on beauty queens and questioning their purpose.

Here, Malay Mail lists five former beauty queens who demonstrate that they have the whole package, including compassion and kindness.

Miss World Malaysia 2007 and Miss Universe Malaysia 2011, humanitarian Deborah Priya Henry

Deborah Priya Henry has been the voice of the refugees in Malaysia ever since she was crowned Miss World Malaysia in 2007. — Picture from Instagram/Deborah Priya Henry

The 34-year-old has been a voice for refugees in Malaysia by highlighting the challenges they face.

She became aware of their difficulties after hosting an in-house documentary about refugees for the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2008.

In the same year, Henry co-founded a non-profit education hub called Fugee School which provides primary, secondary and tertiary education for refugee children, mainly from Somalia and the Middle East.

The school has since educated over 400 refugee children and youth.

She is also a Red Ribbon Celebrity Supporter for the Malaysian AIDS Foundation and helps to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS in the country.

Miss Malaysia World 1983 and award winning Malaysian actress, Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh

Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh was crowned Miss Malaysia World in 1983 and is also an award-winning actress. — Picture from Instagram/Michelle Yeoh

The Ipoh-born actress was appointed United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador in 2016 which were mobilised to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Amongst the SDG aims is to end world poverty in all its forms by the year 2030.

After a strong earthquake that has devastated Nepal in 2015, as the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, Yeoh also highlighted the recovery efforts in Nepal and underscored the critical need for disaster preparedness.

At the end of 2019, Yeoh, again as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, urged the government to raise the bar in combating climate change by investing in renewable energy.

Miss England 2019 Dr Bhasha Mukherjee

Dr Bhasha Mukherjee was busy with humanitarian work abroad until the Covid-19 Pandemic hit the world and she chose to serve her country as a frontliner. — Picture from Instagram/Dr Bhasha Mukherjee

Ever since she was crowned Miss England last year, Dr Mukherjee has been busy with humanitarian work abroad.

As the world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 23-year-old decided to take a pause on her overseas charity works in Asia and flew back to the United Kingdom to serve her country.

Ever since returning, she has been part of the frontliners at an England Covid-19 hospital serving as a junior doctor.

She specialises in respiratory medicine.

Dr Mukherjee is also raising funds to help West Bengal after it was hit by a cyclone last month.

 Miss Universe 2015 and German-Filipino actress, TV host, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach

Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach has been raising HIV awareness among young people and also promotes zero discrimination towards people living with HIV. — Picture from Instagram/Pia Wurtzbach

On May 2017, Wurtzbach was appointed as the UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific where she is responsible for raising HIV awareness among young people as well as to promote zero discrimination towards people living with HIV.

Apart from that, Wurtzbach has also been actively involved in humanitarian affairs such as speaking out on cyberbullying and supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) community.

The 30-year-old actress has also started a fund raising effort as a Covid-19 response with the aim of distributing 25,000 face masks to hospitals in Manila, Philippines.

Ever since she started the fund, she has donated masks to 30 hospitals in central Manila.

Wurtzbach and her team is also looking for ways to help people who need economic support and food aside from focusing on sharing mental health messages on social media to give people tips on how to control or manage their anxiety while staying at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Miss World 2000, actress and singer, Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Priyanka Chopra Jonas has been doing all she can for children of the world ever since her career started. — Picture from Instagram/Priyanka Chopra Jonas

A United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) goodwill ambassador where she has highlighted on issues regarding child abuse and hearing the stories of child survivors of sexual violence in Zimbabwe.

She also started a foundation known as The Priyanka Foundation at the beginning of her career and it was created in memory of Priyanka Bhakta, a nine-year-old who passed away a few months before her birthday due to cancer.

The foundation is an award-winning non-profit organisation based in the United States to serve critically-ill children and families worldwide and has taken care of over 5,000 children.

Besides that, Jonas is also working with health experts to dispel myths about Covid-19 apart from doing vital activism work of her own.

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