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Harnaaz Sandhu of India has outshone finalists from Paraguay and South Africa to claim the Miss Universe 2021 crown at the 70th global beauty pageant held this year in Eilat, Israel.

The 21-year-old actress and model from Punjab, India, defeated her competitors in the final round after offering her advice to young women on “how to deal with the pressures they face today.”

“The biggest pressure the youth of today is facing, is to believe in themselves,” she said. “To know that you are unique makes you beautiful. Stop comparing yourselves with others and let's talk about more important things that are happening worldwide.” 

Come out, speak for yourself, because you are the leader of your life. You are the voice of your own.

The pageant was held in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat late on Sunday night, despite many controversies, calls for boycott over the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and a last-minute scare over the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Most of the 80 contestants had already arrived in Israel by the time the country shut its borders to foreigners, while others had to request permission and undergo mandatory quarantine.


Malaysia decided to join the boycott and refused to send their representative, while South African authorities withdrew their support for their country’s contestant.