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  Miss Afghanistan 2003
Vida Samadzai Bookmark and Share Afghanland.com - Afghanistan has joined a beauty contest again after 30 years 

Vida Samadzai, was born and raised in Kabul Afghanistan. She went to the United States in 1996 

She helped form the US-based Afghan Woman Organization, which aims to educate Afghan women on their rights and raise funds for 
educational facilities being put up in key areas in Afghanistan. She participated in the Miss Earth pageant in Manila on Nov. 9 2003 

"Preserving the environment is the major thrust of the Miss Earth pageant," said the Afghan beauty. "I want to be able to implement the things 
that I would learn from my visit here in my country which is heavily damaged by war." 

 She and other Afghan Woman Organization delegates will fly to Afghanistan in November for a series of lectures sponsored by the new 
government. 

Ms Samadzai, or Miss Afghanistan as she was known in the competition, took part in all sections of the contest, including the swimsuit section. 

Vida Samadzai at Miss Earth Pagent Ms Samadzai, who now studied at California State university Fullerton, A double major in Advertising and Speech Communication and speaks five languages fluently said "My country wants peace more than anything," Vida told Inquirer Entertainment. "We see this pageant as one way of implementing change in Afghanistan, which is now in the process of reconstruction." her participation in the contest sent out a powerful message to her fellow countrywomen. 

"I would like to make people aware that, as Afghan women, we are talented, intelligent and beautiful," she told Reuters news agency. 

"I'm happy and I feel great that the country is relieved from the Taleban's regime. 

 "Now, women can go to school, go to work, they're free. They don't have to wear those long burqas anymore." 

Ms Samadzai is also not just a very beautiful face; she helped to found a US-based Afghan women's charity which raises awareness of 
women's rights and education in the troubled country. 

Vida Samadzai And she is only the second Miss Afghanistan to take part in a beauty contest. 

She was the third runner up in the 2002 Ms America International Pageant (formerly the Miss  America Inter-National Pageant) on Saturday - 
June 29, 2002 at the Multi-Cultural Festival 2002 - Westminster, California

 Zohra Daoud was crowned
Miss Afghanistan in 1974 and technically still retains that title

Afghanistans minister for women's affairs condemned Miss Afghanistan, as Vida Samadzai became the country's first woman to appear in a bikini during a beauty contest in Manila. 


Vida Samadzai in Blue Dress "Appearing naked before a camera or television is not women's freedom but in my opinion is to entertain men," minister Habiba Surabi. 

"We condemn Vida Samadzai, she is not representing Afghanistan's women, and this is not women's freedom." 

Surabi said according to Afghan culture women should not demonstrate their worth using their "beauty or bodies" but by their skills and knowledge. 

Vida Samadzai in Swimsuit competition "In the name of women's freedom, what this Afghan girl has done is not freedom but is lascivious," the minister said.
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At a meeting of The Afghan Supreme Court on state TV, judges condemned Samadzai's appearance. 

"Women who show their bodies without clothes in front of people are completely against Shariah (Islamic) law, against Islam and against the culture of the Afghan people," 

"I know that ... it caused a lot of controversy and I didn't feel comfortable wearing it ... because it's not just my culture, But wearing the two-piece bathing suit was necessary to qualify for the contest, said Samadzai

 she was "appointed" as a contestant by people aware of her work as a volunteer fund-raiser for women's rights causes. She plans to finish a bachelor's and a master's degree in international business and speech at California State University, Fullerton. She then plans to help produce, direct and act in a movie about the life of an Afghan-American. 

"Whether I mention it or not, it's on my mind, it's in my blood. My whole goal is to just go back there and help them," 

Vida SamadzaiJudges announced that, for the first time, they were handing out a "beauty for a cause" prize. They awarded it to Samadzai for "symbolizing the newfound confidence, courage and spirit of today's women" and "representing the victory of women's rights and various social, personal and religious struggles." 

The Miss Earth crown went to Miss Honduras Dania Prince. Brazil's Pricila Zandona was selected first runner-up, Costa Rica's Marianela Zeledon Bolanos was chosen second runner-up, and Miss Poland Marta Matyjasik was third runner-up. 

Miss Earth is a new international beauty pageant organized and produced by Carousel Productions, Inc. to search and develop true "beauties for a cause." The delegates and winners give meaning and relevance to this beauty competition by promoting worthwhile environmental causes and getting actively involved in caring for and preserving Mother Earth. In addition to its environmental objectives, MISS EARTH will also get involved in the ongoing campaign of the Department of Tourism ("DOT") to attract and bring more tourists to the country. In cooperation with the DOT, Carousel will bring the MISS EARTH delegates to selected tourism destinations in the Philippines to showcase and promote the same to the pageant's international viewers.

Vida Samadzai in Tradional Afghan ClothesREQUIREMENTS: 

18 - 25 years of age.

Single, never given birth.

Minimum height of 5 feet 4inches (164.6 cms)

Possesses beauty of face and proportionate body structure

Outgoing and friendly

Excellent physical condition

Has knowledge of her country's culture and environment. 

 

Vote for your Favorite Miss Earth Contestant by clicking Here

Vida Samadzai
Womens Activist/Beauty Queen


Residence: Mission Viejo
Family: Single
What she does: Actress, women's rights activist and reigning Miss Afghanistan
What woman do you most admire? Mother Teresa
How do you motivate people? I tell them that whatever goal they have in life, to go after it, be dedicated, determined, work hard and never give up.
What do you do for fun? Outdoor activities-biking, beach volleyball, walking and taking pictures of the beach.
Cell phone or e-mail? Both
Your pick for best picture of the year: "Osama"

It was the strut felt 'round the world. When 26-year-old Vida Samadzai walked down the runway last November at the Miss Earth Pageant in the Philippines, wearing nothing but a body-hugging red bikini, a Miss Afghanistan sash and a smile, the world held its collective breath. After all, Islamic law forbids its women to expose their bodies. But this act of defiance - and bravery, claim her supporters - was all for a good cause.

"I wanted to send a message to the world for the liberty and freedom of Afghan women...who should be allowed to speak their minds and be whatever they want to be," says the Orange County resident, U.S. citizen and first Afghan contestant in an international beauty pageant in more than 30 years.

While making a stand for women's equality at a beauty pageant seems ironic by American standards, Samadzai hit the mark, calling global attention to the plight of Afghan women and children in a country that is struggling to rebuild itself after more than two decades of war.

"I want to change the image of Afghan women, to show the world that we're courageous, intelligent and beautiful, not wild, vicious and uneducated." The 5-foot 9-inch, green-eyed beauty, who speaks five languages, didn't place in the pageant. But she won respect from the judges, who gave her a newly created "Beauty for a Cause Award" for "symbolizing the newfound confidence, courage and spirit of today's women."

Before the pageant, Samadzai was your average, young Afghan American. She came to the United States in 1996, without her parents and four siblings, on an education visa because "the U.S. has the best education system in the world." (Her family joined her seven years later.) She earned her associate of arts degree from Irvine Valley College in 1998. She was steadily working toward a double major in international business and speech communications at Cal State Fullerton, paying the rent as an assistant loan representative at World Savings. Life was on track. But one bikini changed all that. Now there are movie contracts, book deals, speaking engagements and death threats.

Miss AfghanistanYes, death threats. While many members of the Muslim community are behind her 100 percent, others are angry about her show of courage. By strutting her Western values in the name of Afghanistan, Samadzai, her critics claim, "has done a disservice to her culture and religion." There's even talk of prosecution should she ever return to Afghanistan.

Samadzai admits she feels "stuck" in between two cultures. But she's determined not to let cultural clashes dissuade her from her mission. "I'd love to go back to Afghanistan. They need me right now. I need to help the children, teach them English and math. And I'd like to teach women how to make pizza."

Vida, or "Veda," which means "knowledge and reality" in Sanskrit, was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. Her father worked for the government and owned a car dealership; her mother was a kindergarten teacher. Even as a young girl, she remembers with painful clarity the mistreatment of women. "I HATED the way Afghan men treated women. I was just a kid and felt powerless to do anything, but I so deep inside wanted to help," she says, referring to the routine beatings unleashed by some Afghan men on women and young girls.

In stark contrast, Samadzai loves the way American men treat women. "They're wonderful. They show a lot of respect for women and respect their goals." Asked if she prefers to date Afghans or Americans, she says, "It doesn't really matter what race he is, as long as he understands me and gives me the freedom to do anything."

Beauty for a Cause Winner Vida SamadzaiSomeday Samadzai hopes to marry and have six children. But right now, it's the furthest thing from her mind. She's too busy as a self-proclaimed ambassador for the "new" Afghanistan. Currently, she's shooting a feature film in which she stars as an Afghan American woman torn between two cultures. And she continues to spearhead fund-raising efforts of an Afghan women's rights organization she founded a few years ago.

On top of it all, she wants to get her real estate license and go skydiving again. Samadzai did it once, and her impressions of it are quite telling of her character. "It was so exciting! I forgot about the fear. I thought, 'So what? Let's just do it!'"

Her hopes for Afghanistan? "As a child, I remember lush gardens and thriving commerce. It was a beautiful country," she reflects. "I want it to have a great educational system and a strong economy. When people look at an Afghani passport, I want them to be proud of these people and treat them with respect."

- Lynn Armitage

http://www.ocmetro.com/metro031804/cover031804.html

Official Website: http://www.vidasamadzai.com/
   
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