By Omolola Afolabi
TO promote inclusive representation of women, Maria Okese has won the first-ever the Most Beautiful Deaf Girl in Nigeria Beauty Pageant (MBDGN) pageantry held at Standard Bearers School, Lekki, Lagos.
She will represent Nigeria at the 2020 Miss Deaf World in Prague, Czech Republic.
She emerged winner among the 14 contestants across 13 states, including Lagos, Enugu, Abuja, Kaduna, Ebonyi, Ogun, Anambra, Edo, Benue, Rivers, Ogun, and Kwara.
MBDGN organisers, Dr. Tolu Oke-Igaire and Uri Ngozi Chukwukwuka, said one of the factors that inspired the pageantry was the signing of the disability bill, which also created a platform for canvassing inclusion for the women with hearing and speech impairments in society – classrooms, playgrounds, workplaces or social places, and to drive attention to their abilities and not their disabilities because people tend to see the disabilities first.
Okese, a professional photographer and arts enthusiast, said she would create awareness on the issues of raising the standard of education for deaf children, and the need to motivate, especially those in Rivers State to contribute to the society despite their disabilities.
She continued: “I would like to show Nigerians and non-Nigerians that irrespective of their limitations, they can become who they want to be.”