Nina Murad has been living in Australia since she was 8 years old. She believes many Australians have a positive view of Kurdistan.. Photographer: Akam Hamadamin
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A Kurdish university student has succeeded in representing Kurdistan — not Iraq — in a beauty pageant in Australia, which has provided her a spring board into humanitarian work.
“Initially, they did not allow me, saying I had to participate in the name of Iraq. But we had a lot of discussions with them that Kurds have own culture, language and land,” Nina Murad, a mathematics and chemistry major at Flinders University, told Rudaw
The persuasive 21-year-old insisted on competing on behalf of Kurdistan in the Miss Australia contest (now called Miss World Australia) and eventually the organizers agreed.
“I faced many problems, but I insisted if I had not been able to participate under the name of Kurdistan, I would not have taken part in it,” she said.
She explained that qualifications for the event included education level, overall conduct and the number of languages spoken.
“In addition, your conduct during the ceremony, including how to pose for pictures as a fashion model, face and of course height,” the young Kurd said were factors looked at by judges.
Murad was runner-up in last year’s annual contest, but won the online voting.
Since then, she has done charity work in the Philippines, Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Through the Australian organization Donation of Kind, Murad helped to organized study supplies for 400 students, as well as clothing and shoes.
Additionally, the organization provided 20 sewing machines, two medical devices for eye and heart inspection and dispatched them to Kurdistan.
“My return to the Kurdistan Region was to oversee the distribution of these goods. I am also working on the repair projects of four schools in Ranya city and all their facilities have already been provided for this purpose,” she said.
The native of Ranya in Sulaimani governorate says her parents, especially her father, have been very supportive.
She has been living in Australia since she was 8 years old. She believes many Australians have a positive view of Kurdistan.
“Some of my Australian friends would like to come to Kurdistan with me and they love Kurdistan because I have shown them lots of pictures,” she added.