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20 Questions with Zambian Beauty Queen Atieno Winnie-Fredah Kabwe

Occupation: Former Beauty Queen, Former Banker, Youth Leader and Student (Accounting/Finance/Business)      

 

1. Why Did You Pick The Career Path That You Did?

I have always loved being part of activities that inspired positive change and empowered women and young people. Beauty pageants (which I am still very passionate about), art and youth programs alongside education are the platforms that are necessary for me to help create the change that the world needs.

2. What should every woman try at least once in her life?

I think every woman should travel to a different country by herself in order to experience a different culture.

3. What is on your bookshelf?

Why We Want You To Be Rich:Two Men - One Message by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki, Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama and Who’s In Charge Of You by Steve Edwards

4. What item in your closet do you wear the most?

My Blue Blazer

5. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I am a tomboy. I enjoy dirt bike riding, camping and climbing trees.

6. What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?  

What I wish knew when I was younger is to not look at the world the way I saw it, but how it really was. It took someone to tell me this and sometimes I struggle with that concept even today.

7. What is your beauty secret?

I drink a lot of water, rarely drink soda, and hardly wear make up.

8. What’s the biggest personal change you’ve ever made?

Resigning from my Banking Job to pursue my modeling career and further my education. I do not regret it.

9. What motivates you to improve yourself?

My personal goals inspire me to improve myself daily.

10. What are some struggles you faced in your life that came about because of your gender?

My opinion not being respected. Even though pageantry is female dominated, I have had to interact with a lot of people in some male dominated industries due to projects and being part of youth programs . Some people I have come across still maintain the view that women only play a traditional role. While I do value culture, I refuse to believe that women cannot be more than wives and mothers.

11. Who and What are some of your Influences?

My Mother and President Barack Obama have been my greatest influences due to their ability to break barriers to achieve success.

12. Do You Wish You Could've Done Things Differently if given the Chance? Please Explain.

Nothing, because I have worked extremely hard in life and I am very passionate about every thing I have worked for. I think my successes and failures in life are part of the process of growth. Therefore, they are an important part of who I am.

13, What and Who Inspires You?

Life inspires me simply because of its fragility and knowing that my time on earth is limited. Therefore, I feel obligated to leave a legacy that future generations can look back at and be inspired by, whether its through pageantry, being part of clubs on campus, youth programs in my country, or my academic career. That inspires me to work hard each and everyday. My mother is definitely my inspiration.She has worked extremely hard in life to make I and my siblings’ lives easier solely on her own.

14. What Do You Count As Your Greatest Achievement?

Focusing on completing my education. I am currently working towards my degree, I gave everything up just to focus on my education, and I am proud of that. Staying true to my values while I modeled. When one models and travels a lot at a young age, the person can lose their identity easily due to the pressure of fitting in. I never succumbed to that pressure and I am very proud of myself. I was more focused on what I needed to achieve without compromising my career or values. I was never bothered by what the next person did unless it could make me a better person.

15. How have you overcome these struggles and/or insecurities?

I am a very strong-willed individual and I hardly get intimidated. It takes a lot for a person or anything to make me lose focus on a stand that I’ve made, because I was raised to stand by my beliefs and never give in easily unless it is morally right to do so.  

16. In your experience, what do you think are some of the prevalent issues women face in everyday life, professionally?

I know that here in the United States there is the issue of the wage gap. I am the Vice President of a students organization  on campus called American Association of University Women Student Chapter. Part of our purpose is to advocate for equity for women and girls and to fundraise for our organization to support women and girls.

17. What Do You Think Needs to be Done to Address These Issues?

What needs to be done is to not give up on educating our communities about issues dealing with women and girls, and to continue to research current events relating to the challenges women and girls are facing around the world because I am certain that the wage gap is not only a US problem.This can be done through advocacy and education in order for countries to work towards a common goal of advancing equity for women and girls.

18. What Would You Tell another Young Woman who wants to go down the same path that you have chosen?

I would tell her to go for it, but to develop thick skin through the journey because you will be criticized about the way you look and for every decision you make. You have to be tough in not taking everything personal. Most importantly, respect those that came before you as they made it easier for you, even though you may not be able to see the results of their work. Listen and learn from their good and bad decisions. I always tell younger girls that in life, it is best to learn from others’ mistakes because life is too short and you cannot experience it all. Experience is sometimes very bitter. No matter what anyone tells you, as you achieve everything else you desire, put your education on that list if you have the opportunity. There is nothing more powerful and respectable than an educated young woman. I also want to urge young girls who want to model, whether it is pageantry or professional modeling, it is not a career for everyone, and not having modeled does not make you less successful. I think that younger women lack the vision to dream big. I urge them to go to school, and be a financial analyst, engineer, join politics, or be an entrepreneur.

19. What do you do to give back to your community?

I am part of Student Senate and American Association of University Women at my University. These are both student organizations that represent students. Even though they serve some different purposes, we represent students and we work on activities that aim to give back in our student community.

20. If you could tell young women one thing, what would it be?

Before achieving success most of us would have to fail before we succeed, and I think it is important to have the confidence in your own abilities in order for one to understand this concept. As women, if we always follow societies’ expectations of what and who we should be and not follow our dreams, we will never achieve success. I am not saying that women should ignore their culture, but rather I am implying that young women should not stick to backward beliefs that will limit their growth. Most importantly, they should not be everywhere. It is more important to build something sustainable than to be seen everywhere doing nothing. Being popular does not always mean that one is successful.