Beauty contests are popular whether in the big cities or villages. Beautiful, intelligent, and talented ladies vie for the different awards at stake, while audiences get an experience of second guessing the choices of judges. While winning local pageants is already an achievement, those who qualify to represent their respective countries in international events get the limelight and a head-start in careers often related to entertainment and media. Such is the case of women who represent their countries in international contests such as Ms.
Universe which began in 1952.
The logo of Ms. Universe or “the woman with stars” represents beauty and
responsibility, hence, a shift from being merely a pretty face to a woman with
the potential to influence and spread messages to the global community.
|Miss Uganda 2015/2016 |
Zahara Muhammed Nakigaya
The confidence to answer the biotech question was a result of participation of the pageant finalists, in an agriculture-focused
supported by among others, the Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC) and
the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Kampala. The lady candidates spent a
three-week activity-filled event on “Promoting agricultural entrepreneurship
among the youth” which was the pageant’s theme. They engaged in sessions with
scientists, visited laboratories and field trials and demonstrations, and were
exposed to evidence-based research in agriculture. In an interview with Uganda’s
newspaper, Daily Monitor, Zahara
said, “I learnt so many things, including the
benefits of modern agriculture, which I want to pass on to other youth during
|Lady candidates learn about agricultural machineries at the |
The innovative approach to making biotech more mainstream in public narratives was the brainchild of the UBIC team led by Dr. Barbara Mugwanya Zawedde. UBIC, a member of ISAAA's information network, is committed to fostering greater awareness and understanding of biosciences in a country that is open to modern agricultural technologies to address productivity and population issues. Dr.
however, notes that the “openness of the pageant organizers to have their
candidates attend the bootcamp and to include a question for the candidates on
biotech, opened up the opportunity to get the public interested in a topic
often marginalized from daily conversations.” But more importantly, the pageant candidates found the
experience very useful and an eye opener.
|The contestants at the NaCRRI laboratory.|
Indeed the challenge for biotech communicators is how to encourage public engagement, but not on a playing field that is unfamiliar with the latter. Science and its applications do not have to be robustly tested within the confines of the laboratory or field alone. Rather, efforts must be made to engage the public in new conversations that allow them to view science and technology as integral part of their daily life and incorporate public values into decision-making. UBIC can also be commended for popularizing biotech among the youth in
, through essay contests,
internships, and science fairs. Uganda
Meanwhile, this event is a unique strategy, one of many other possibilities to jumpstart public engagement that can hopefully make a positive difference.
For more information about agricultural biotechnology in Uganda, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.