Four days after model Veronika Didusenko won the title of Miss Ukraine in 2018, Miss World officials took away her title after they discovered she is a mom, which violates the pageant’s rules.
published Sunday, that upon entering to compete in Miss Ukraine, she was aware of the policy that prohibited mothers from entering the competition, but said that pageant organizers encouraged her to enter anyway.
“Why should a woman be excluded from entering just because she’s a mother? It doesn’t make any sense,” the 24-year-old model, who has a 5-year-old son, told the BBC’s Cherry Wilson.
The list of requirements for entry in a Miss World pageant says that a contestant must be someone who “has never given birth to a child.”
Didusenko made the announcement to challenge Miss World in an Instagram post on Saturday, not long before this year’s Miss World pageant finale, which takes place in London on December 14.
“Today #righttobeamother has made a huge leap forward,” Didusenko wrote on Instagram. “I have launched a legal challenge against @MissWorld and this marks the new phase in our joint fight for justice.”
According to a statement provided to Insider by a representative for Didusenko, she is now taking legal action against Miss World in hopes that the organization will change its policy that prohibits mothers from entering in the competition.
In the post, Didusenko added: “We say that under the #EqualityAct 2010 the entry policy operated by #MissWorld is discriminatory on various grounds, namely marital status, and pregnancy and maternity. The Equality Act protects against discrimination based on certain characteristics, including marriage, maternity and sex.”
Didusenko, who has enlisted the representation of attorneys Ravi Naik and Marie Demitriou, referred to the Equality Act, which went into effect on October 1, 2010, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The act contains nine pieces of legislation that provide Britain with a “discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.”
In her Instagram post, Didusenko added that she does not want her crown back, but instead wants “to get the rules changed for wider society.”
A representative for Didusenko reiterated that message in the statement provided to Insider, saying that Didusenko hopes the pageant rules can be changed “not for her, but for larger society.”
The statement continued: “The Equality Act 2010 protects discrimination against certain protected characteristics, including marriage, maternity and sex. The reason Veronika was not allowed to compete in Miss World is because she was married and had a child. Quite simply, denying her the chance of competing on those bases would seem to breach those protections against discrimination.”
“This is a systemic, widespread and international policy that may result in discrimination on large scale across many countries,” the statement read. “We await Miss World’s full response to see if they can justify their entry policy.”
Didusenko told Radio 1’s “Newsbeat” that she wants to “make sure the rules of Miss World move with the times.”
“I want to make them more fit for nowadays and reflect women’s reality today — who can perfectly balance between their careers and their personal life,” Didusenko told the BBC.
As the BBC’s article points out, in a 2018 interview with Good Morning Britain, Julia Morley, the CEO of the Miss World Organization, spoke about the rule that prohibits mothers from competing in the pageant. In the interview, Morley defended the rule, saying: “When you’re trying to get a worldwide organization to agree, you have to look to everyone and they vote as to what is acceptable.”
Didusenko is not the first mother who has lost a pageant title due to organization policies
In 2018, a Miss Universe winner lost her title after becoming pregnant. In February, Yahoo!’s Kerry Justich reported that Miss Bolivia Universe 2018 Joyce Prado was stripped of her title after she became pregnant. Yahoo! reported that Prado may have lost her title because of pageant rules that prohibited contestants from being pregnant.
Miss Universe outlines its rules and requirements on its website, stating that competitors cannot be pregnant, married, or have ever parented a child.
Bolivian modeling agency Promociones Gloria shared a statement on Facebook at the time, which said Prado was dismissed from her title due to a “breach of contract.”
“Promociones Gloria is announcing to Opinion Publica that the current Miss Santa Cruz and Miss Bolivia Universe 2018 has been stripped of her titles of Miss Santa Cruz and Miss Bolivia for reasons strictly related to a breach of contract, noting that we maintain cordial relations in an area of mutual understanding, honoring the confidentiality clause,” the modeling agency wrote on Facebook.
A representative for Promociones Gloria later provided a statement to Insider at the time, saying that “it was agreed between” Prado and the modeling agency that she would focus on her pregnancy and continue to be a model with the agency despite not being “able to fulfill any of the activities that she had to do as Miss Bolivia.”
Representatives for Miss World and Veronika Didusenko’s attorneys, Ravi Naik and Marie Demitriou, did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.