Miss Galway takes a stand for young women on International Women’s Day

By Seoirse Mulgrew

Young women should not have to listen to common, misinformed gendered stereotypes. That’s the view of the current Miss Galway, Pamela Uba, whose statement comes to mark International Women’s Day.

Photo Credit: Demarra Photography

The medical scientist and Catwalk model, who was crowned Miss Galway in March 2020, says that “you shouldn’t let other people hold you back.”

“I want to use my platform to show girls that you can make something of yourself and stand up for what you believe in, you can be whatever you want to be,” she said.

The 25-year-old described the stereotypes that are often cast upon young women in the beauty industry. The model and scientist said that she does not confine herself to one box.

“There are so many stereotypes out there, people will say ‘oh because you’re in a pageant you’re not smart’. I think that’s very unfair to say, we have people from many different backgrounds such as lawyers and digital engineers. It helps girls to see that you shouldn’t let other people hold you back,” she said.

Pamela decided to apply for Miss Galway after winning Best Dressed on Ladies’ Day at the Galway Races in 2019.

Photo Credit: Dave Cooley Photography

“I applied in February last year. It was always something I wanted to do but back then I didn’t have the experience modelling and I wasn’t as outspoken and confident in myself to do it.

“I remember watching Tirna Slevin win Miss Galway and I was actually working at the event at the time and I went into the judges interview room to give them a glass of water, and Mary Lee who works for Catwalk thought I was one of the contestants and encouraged me to try out down the line.

“Luckily I won Miss Galway in March 2020 and it’s actually coming up to the one-year anniversary of being Miss Galway,” she said.

Throughout her time as Miss Galway, Pamela has worked with many charitable organisations and credits Miss Ireland for those opportunities.

Together with Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH), the Miss Ireland contestants organised a Santa box appeal for the homeless and for people in Direct Provision and delivered them to different charities and centres across Ireland.

This project was very important to Pamela as she spent many years of her childhood in Direct Provision.

Pamela moved to Ireland from South Africa with her family when she was eight years old.

“I chose to drop my Santa boxes into the direct provision centre in Ballyhaunis because I grew up there, some people know that and some don’t. But that’s my background, I was there for maybe 10 years so I wanted to give back as I remember receiving those boxes when I was a kid,” she said.

Pamela discussed how she “stands up for the girl that doesn’t know where she belongs.”

“I have young girls messaging me, saying they believe in me and thanking me for sticking up for them because we are a minority and I’m not just talking about people of colour, I’m talking about immigrants that come here because I am an immigrant, I am Irish at the same time but I think I stand up for the girl that’s different,” she said.

On International Women’s Day, Pamela described the woman she admires most.

“My mom pretty much raised us on her own, she’s such a strong woman to be able to come to a country with four young kids not knowing what she was going to get. She saved every penny she could and paid for me to go to school,” she said.

Photo Credit: Seán McCormack

Pamela has also worked as a medical scientist on the frontline in University Hospital Galway since the start of the pandemic.

“It has been tough, there was a lot of pressure put on the hospital system. We were quite busy especially after Christmas with the spike in cases but we’re hoping that the vaccine roll out will bring us back to some sort of normality and hopefully we’ll be able to see something like a summer.

“I work in the biochemistry department and we analyse patient’s samples to help with either diagnosis of diseases or to monitor a patient’s status. During the pandemic we implemented new tests to search for markers that can tell whether a patient has Covid or not,” she said.

Pamela will represent Galway in next year’s Miss Ireland competition.

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