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More and more, the world is learning that beauty is inclusive. For years the pageant world has focused on physical perfection. Slowly we are evolving into a world where swimsuit categories are no longer important and contestants have the option to go makeup-free. This year, Malawi upped the stakes by hosting the very first beauty pageant for people with Albinism. 

Malawians are working overtime to fight the stigma against the albino population. There is a belief that people with albinism have magical body parts that when mixed in a potion, it will bring wealth and good fortune. As a result, albinos are often killed and sacrificed. Through this pageant, The Association for People with Albinism aim to denounce the beliefs about Albinos, highlight their authentic beauty, and advocate for them to be protected. 

The 20-contestant pageant is the first of its kind. This year they crowned 23-year-old Chikondi Kadzanja as Ms. Albinism Malawi and 24-year old Burnet Phunyanya Mr. Albinism Malawi. Kadazanja wants to use her title to advocate for change. In a statement to VOA, she said, “What I am going to do now is firstly to bring awareness to communities, especially the rural communities that hold negative attitudes, myths and misconceptions about persons with albinism.” Phunyanya wants to focus on uplifting his community. “I am going to stand still and help persons with albinism. First of all making them to trust in themselves, trust their ideas, and believe in themselves,” he said.

The Association for People with Albinism wants to make this an annual pageant. Because the attacks on albinos aren’t specific to Malawi, it is important to educate and advocate for this community. With more than 2 dozen killed since 2014 and over 100 people missing, an annual event can highlight this epidemic and become the catalyst for change.

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