Cover Miss Mexico Andrea Meza is crowned Miss Universe 2021. Photo: Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images

Did you know that Miss Mexico also has a degree in software engineering and fights for the eradication of gender violence?

Miss Universe 2021 was crowned on Sunday night in a glittery affair in Hollywood, Florida, and the title went to Miss Mexico, Andrea Meza.

Meza managed to beat her fellow finalists who hailed from Brazil and Peru in the televised event, hosted by Mario Lopez and Olivia Culpo.

Related: Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong Sends #StopAsianHate Message With Miss Universe Costume

The winner was determined by a panel of eight women that included former Miss Universe contestants, Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow. They served as competition analysts as well as commentators.

This year, the competition, which consistently drew criticism in the past for objectifying women, shifted its focus slightly. Instead of simply focusing on looks, the contest focused more on activism and female empowerment over the last few years.

This was more evident this year with many of the contestants using their time in the spotlight to bring awareness to issues such as Asian hate and violence in certain countries.

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In fact, just last week, Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong made a very loud and proud statement at the national costume segment of the competition by sweeping onstage in a bodysuit and cape with the words #StopAsianHate painted on the back of her red and white cape.

Violence against Asians has become more rampant particularly in the United States over the past year, particularly since the outbreak of Covid-19. 

In speaking about her costume on Instagram, Ong said: "My national costume is inspired by Singapore’s national flag—it symbolises unity for all and social harmony in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and inter-religious country."

Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who ended up making the top 21, also made a statement with her time in the spotlight when she brought attention to the coup that was happening in her country as a result of the army ousting Aung San Suu Kyi earlier this year. She participated in anti-coup protests to speak out against the approximately 796 people that have been killed by security forces since then and the nearly 4,000 people who have been put in jail.

She said in her biographical video: "Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day. Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar."

Lwin ended up winning the best national costume award for her traditional Burmese outfit. 

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Dressed in a brilliant red evening gown, Meza walked the catwalk before going back to hug her fellow competitors tearfully after her win.

The model, who also has a degree in software engineering, managed to beat over 70 contestants from around the globe in the highly-anticipated competition which was taking place after being cancelled the year before due to the pandemic.

Meza is also an activist who works with the Municipal Institute for Women to end gender violence. 

Her win certainly cements the pageant's changing views on beauty and the objectifying of women and turns the focus to highly educated women who make strong statements and fight against injustices in society. And that is the essence of being a woman and something that should be celebrated.

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