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Grace Walia: set to take on big goals

  • Hans David Tampubolon

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Thu, April 23, 2015 | 08:48 am
Grace Walia: set to take on big goals

Courtesy of Miss India-Indonesia

Recently crowned Miss India-Indonesia 2015 Grace Walia has a lot of plans '€” not only for her career, but also to help improve the plight of women.

For a start, the 17-year-old says that she will represent Indonesia, the nation where she has lived for her whole life, at the Miss India-Worldwide pageant in August.

'€œI will represent Indonesia as the country it is '€” by telling people about the beauty of Indonesia and educating people about the country,'€ Grace said. '€œWith this kind of competition, I get the chance to help bring the two countries closer.'€

Grace, who recently graduated from the Gandhi Memorial International School in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, said that sharing her experience as a girl of Punjabi descent in Indonesia would be one of the main points of her presentation in the upcoming pageant.

'€œIndonesia is a very accepting country with a community that is incredibly friendly, so I think living as an Indian in Indonesia is something that is very incredible,'€ she said. '€œNot only do I get to have the cultures of two countries. but I also get to be a part of the community as an Indonesian.'€

As the only girl of three siblings, Grace said that her work has received the full support of her family. '€œThey are very, very supportive. They are the reason for me joining this competition. They are the reason why I am Miss India-Indonesia today.'€

'€œThey have supported me throughout my life in whatever that I choose,'€ Grace said. '€œThey are incredibly proud of me and they believe I still have a lot of potential.'€

 '€œLife, in general, has not been very different after winning the Miss India-Indonesia pageant. However, I have more friends now and all of them support me for competing in the worldwide pageant,'€ she said, adding that the victory was a big boost to her confidence.

Grace said that she joined the pageant to raise bigger issues '€” such as making the world safer for women. '€œIn 2013, the Miss India-Indonesia pageant raised the issue of violence against women. It was also one of the main reasons why I decided to participate.'€

'€œViolence against women issue is a major problem in both India and Indonesia,'€ Grace said. '€œI am a firm believer that women need justice and when they cannot get equal treatment, then it will not be good for the world as a whole.'€

Grace says that her drive to ensure women are treated fairly and respectfully stems from her own experience.

'€œMy safety is not very assured when I walk down the streets,'€ she says. '€œThere is always the possibility of men or boys just approaching me, kind of making me uncomfortable,'€ she said. '€œI think when women feel comfortable enough to go outside of their houses that will make the country a better community.'€

Grace said early education about gender equality was key to ensuring a better future for women and the world.

'€œI think that parents should be able to educate their children '€” not only to educate men to behave and to respect women, but also to educate their daughters to respect themselves and be cautious and always go in the right direction,'€ she said.

The opportunity to address social issues, such as women'€™s rights, through pageants can offset critics who say the
events objectify women, according to Grace.

'€œI think that even though there are groups of people that disagree with the way a pageant works or what a pageant represents, I think a pageant gives a lot of opportunities for women,'€ Grace said. '€œThere are a lot of women that need and want this opportunity. Instead of looking at the negatives aspects of a pageant, we should look at the positive aspects of it too.'€

For the future, Grace said she would love to take on new challenges to further develop herself as a person and to support her cause.

'€œI would love to get an opportunity to go abroad and maybe live in a new environment,'€ she says. '€œI maybe will take acting or modeling, because that is what I am passionate about as a career. But when it comes to a proper subject, I think I would like to take psychology or law.'€

'€œIf I take law, it is going be a path that allows me to do something about the safety of women and I think that will give me the opportunities to represent them in a case and hopefully get them their justice.'€