By Ediri Ejoh
The winner of Miss Nigeria Great Britain, beauty pageant, Mary Dinah, has expressed her commitment to actualizing the ‘Zero Hunger,’ United Nations Sustainable Development Goal among the girl child as her key focus.
Mary 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, 2019, told Vanguard that 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’.
Speaking in an interview with Vanguard, beauty queen who is also the chief executive officer (CEO) of Seattle Residences and Spa, Mary Dinah Foundation, an NGO among other, promised to use her new status to make a positive impact on enhancing the lives of the girl child in Africa.
“I think I have a big responsibility to use everything I have and make a big impact on my award. However, I have chosen the impact I think can do a lot of good and it possesses a lot of focus and that focus is on child hunger,” She said.
On her passion to drive this vision through, she said, “Whenever I eat, I think of children who are hungry and have nothing to eat. I think it is far greater than a lot of other causes or importance as well. Before we go to bed, schools or looking at sexual harassment, we have to eat or else we wouldn’t 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.”
According to her, before being crowned a beauty pageant, she had identified two key areas of the nation’s economy that needs urgent attention, namely, unemployment and gender inequality.
She hinted that she has been working on finding solutions to these challenges in the past. Speaking of commitment to solving these societal problems, she said, “I started my charity five years ago with Job link foundation and based on that I always analyze the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics report on unemployment and have been invited to CNBC to speak, which has been going on for three years.
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“Unemployment rate in Nigeria is in a dire state. We have total unemployment at about 23 percent with the youths is heading towards 50 percent, women which people barely look at is edging towards 50 percent aswell. That is to say in every 10 women you meet, five are unemployed. It’s 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 schools, stopped from going to schools and all of the traumatic situations.
“According to the British council, Nigeria has the highest rate of girls out of school in the World. I believe there are five million girls out of school and which is not seen anywhere in the world. Honestly, there is something we are not doing right.
“I strongly believe that our solution to this problem is not about who is from where, but we all have to come together as one Nigeria to solve this problem nationally and not have a fragment of areas in the country that are moving forward and others that are lacking behind.”
Mary is also convinced that Nigeria in general and Lagos, in particular, has a huge potential in tourism. She has, therefore, pledged to support the development of the sector.
“I believe Lagos is a beautiful state and should be a megacity. It has not gotten a global frontier like Miami, London, and Paris. I have visited those cities and believe that Lagos is the place to get the greatest most fun on earth.
“Sometimes yesterday I was at a beach in Ilase which looks like a scene from Mexico. Lagos has untold beauty that people including ‘Lagosians’ have not had time to explore. I definitely would be using the platform to promote tourism and encourage other people in the world to come to Lagos and experience what we have here,” she stated.
On her background and how it helps her win the beauty pageant, Mary said, “I grew up partly in Nigeria and the United Kingdom but had always said if I would participate in a beauty pageant it would be to become Miss Nigeria because this is where I was born and my parents are here.
“The night of the award was beautiful and magical as I was graced with friends and family and the audience cheering me while on stage. We had various categories such as casual wear, traditional wear to showcase.
“However, I had designed my traditional outfit. My mom 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 that wears a short top and skirt, mixed with some beads and carried a calabash which made it more colourful that is to say a typical Fulani and Yoruba. I was very happy.”
She explained that her passion to support humanity dated back to her childhood but got serious expression in 2014 when she established, The Mary in Leadership Foundation.
The foundation, she said has been successful in other youth benevolence programs including Job-link which according to her was Nigeria’s first every jobcentre.