Today we are catching up with Hawra Khalil of Victoria, one of the 29 talented and inspiring women from all walks of life who are hoping to be crowned Miss Universe Australia 2021.
So Hawra , why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a 28-year young woman who opened her eyes to life in a refugee camp, now an ambitious Australian woman advocating for Mental health, inclusivity and representation.
I am a Law student moving on to study Psychology. Alongside studying, I had a well-established beauty business in which I provided makeup and beauty services. Having this business gave me the opportunity to support myself whilst studying as well as giving me the chance to meet so many people from all walks of life and listen to all their stories which have made me more passionate about my advocacies.
I have had to recently close this business down due to COVID-19 and lockdown, which restricted me from operating. I am also a digital creator and brand ambassador, so I guess I got to focus more of my attention on that following the closure of the business. Apart from all the serious stuff, I love some me time listening to some good old school music, painting, reading, going on a good long hike or bike ride, trying different foods and sipping on some green tea following the guilt of how much food I consumed.
We all have motivations, mine usually revolving around good coffee, but what was your key motivation for entering the Miss Universe Australia competition?
Oh, I love myself a good coffee! But, aside from my coffee addiction, my key motivation for entering the Miss Universe Australia Competition is seeing the inclusivity that Miss Universe Australia stands for. Seeing how Australia has taken the initiative and broken barriers that shouldn’t be in place, such as height or skin colour, definitely motivated me to enter, and I knew that this platform would allow me to represent what lacks representation.
If you win the title of Miss Universe Australia, you will receive the prestigious Minespec Parts Education and Business grant worth $20,000; what would you do with the grant and why?
If I were to win the title and receive this grant, I initially wanted to put it towards my business and to upscale from a beauty salon into a beauty centre to not only cater for all your beauty needs but also run programs where I can works hand in hand with organisations whom deal with people struggling with mental health and bring them in for complementary services to pamper themselves hoping it’d bring a smile to their faces.
Now that my business has taken a turn and shut down, I would love to put the funds towards creating an online program, creating a digital home for all those who struggle to speak out about the struggles they are faced with, whether it be mental health, domestic violence, sexual abuse or anything that may be causing their mental health to deteriorate. I would love to create a safe place for those suffering in silence. A place I once needed.
With everyone bringing their own unique and individual flair to the competition, what is something that sets you apart from the other contestants?
What sets me apart alongside these incredible women is that I, as well as so many people globally, can relate to lacking representation, all my life due to being a hijabi and many experiences I’ve been faced with this.
I believe that one whom holds the title should also be holding the voice of her community and society with the goal to not only make a difference nationally but internationally.
Having experienced many hardships that many can relate to, I believe that I can be that voice.
Being a refugee born in a desert, in a refugee camp, I can be a voice for refugees. Growing up being discriminated against and harassed due to wearing a hijab, I can be the voice against racism and discrimination.
Being one who grew up being bullied and had no friends throughout my primary years, not only due to being covered but also for having bell’s Palsy, which I have been struck with again just a month before the finals, I can be the voice for those affected by bullying and show them that their uniqueness that they are receiving mistreatment for will eventually lead them to beautiful places like where I am at now and where I believe I am headed to.
I want to break the stereotypical cycle of covered women not being seen as fit to be role models. We have seen all walks of life represented on the Miss Universe stage, but we are yet to see a covered woman. I can be that woman who changes that.
To me, becoming Miss universe means being the voice of the oppressed and shedding light and awareness on unspoken things and working on plans and ways to eradicate these issues.
The last eighteen months certainly have been challenging for all of us; what would you say has been something you’ve gained or learned from the whole experience?
Challenging, it definitely HAS been; however, I believe that with hardship comes ease, as well as god not burdening a soul beyond it, can handle. The last eighteen months taught me the true meaning of that, especially after being confronted with a lockdown that has dragged on for longer than expected and my mental health taking a turn for the worse.
This was influenced by not only not being able to see my friends and loved ones but also by the closure of my business and developing Bell’s Palsy (Idiopathic Facial paralysis) for the third time again. So having had that load, it’s been good to have a community support me throughout it, which has being a gain, that being my MUA family and my digital community.
The last eighteen months certainly have been What is the first thing you hope to do as soon as restrictions are lifted?
Oh, where do I start! There are definitely many things Id want to do but first on the list is definitely catch up with my girls! Yes, my MUA girls too!
Final Five Questions
Favourite Place to Travel To?
Considering we are still in lockdown, I would travel the world right this moment if I could! My favourite place to travel has got to be Dubai as I have experienced travelling there and absolutely loved it, definitely a place id visit again. If it were a country, I haven’t been to however wish to visit it’d have to be Malaysia, Bali or Turkey.
The highlight of the last year?
Definitely taking part in Miss Universe Australia as it has truely made me step out of my comfort zone as well as change my outlook on many things that have sparked a permanent positive change in myself and my goals.
What is something people may find interesting about yourself?
That I was born in a tent. People just don’t expect it. Funny story, in high school, I had to leave the classroom to get a book from my locker. I raced out, leaving the door open and she yelled after me “Hawra come back here! Were you born in a tent”. It was the first time I had heard that phrase. I walked back in and responded to her question with “yes Mrs, I was”, she thought I was joking and said “Hawra hurry up don’t waste time”, I then made it clear that it was a fact, and I actually was born in a tent. I’ll just say, She avoided me after that and I abused “going to get my book from my locker” every time after that.
Tell us something you’re passionate about and why?
My passion lies with becoming the best version of myself to continue to inspire, be a role model and have the influence to bring upon change where it’s needed. I want to be able to help by being the person I never had. One many can relate to when facing hardship or struggle and being the reason for them to hold on. I am determined to stand tall and proud for young people who are still questioning their place.
One piece of advice you have for us all?
Considering the challenging times we face, I would like to dedicate my advice to mental health and all those struggling with it this very moment. Let go of what’s holding you back from taking that step that you feel uncomfortable to take however may change your life. This may be making that first phone call or booking that first appointment with a professional. Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding mental health, and that’s what I want you to let go of. We are fortunate to have unlimited resources so please speak out reach out. Your not alone. You are strong. You are loved. You belong.
Thank you to
Minespec Parts are proud to be partnering with Miss Universe Australia, Working to empower and support women not just through the Miss Universe Australia pageant and their $20k education and business grant, but through many platforms with various activities across Australia all furthering and supporting women in the workplace.