‘Special purpose’: Why Miss World PH bet Gwen Fourniol advocates for children’s education

May 25, 2022 - 8:24 PM
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Miss World Philippines candidate Gwendolyne Fourniol from Negros Occidental. (ERDA/Handout photo)

Miss World Philippines candidate Gwendolyne Fourniol pushed for equal rights to education in her “Beauty with a Purpose” advocacy.

Gwendolyne or Gwen of Negros Occidental is one of the 35 hopefuls vying for the Miss World Philippines crown on the 11th edition of the pageant on June 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Beauty with a Purpose is a charity initiative of the Miss World Philippines organization where candidates choose or feature their advocacy projects in line with the competition.

The presentation of all the video campaigns was live-streamed on Facebook on May 24

Gwen was previously chosen as among the top five finalists of the pageant’s Talent Presentation.

The power of education

For Gwen, education has the power to uplift the lives of Filipinos and communities. She sees empowering children through education as her “special purpose.”

“It was a reminder to myself as to why I have the strength to keep pushing myself to my limits by joining Miss World Philippines Organization a second time because I knew deep in my heart that I have a special purpose and that purpose can only be fully realized with a crown. It will empower me to fulfill my advocacy to empower children through education,” Gwen said on  Facebook.

She specifically expressed her support to a foundation called the Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) Foundation, Inc. It is a non-stock, non-profit organization that supported the education of her mother Sim Bolivar and her siblings.

ERDA was founded by a priest named Fr. Pierre Tritz, SJ in 1974.

Miss World Philippines candidate Gwendolyne Fourniol from Negros Occidental with children of ERDA (ERDA/Released)

“My mother, Sim, grew up in poverty in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental. There were seven children in the family and only one sibling was given the opportunity to study,” Gwen said in a statement.

“Losing hope for her future, she found her way to Manila to stay with a cousin and it was there that she met Fr. Pierre T. Tritz, SJ, who founded ERDA in 1974 to give underprivileged but deserving children the opportunity to study,” she added.

With Tritz’s help, Gwen said that her mother was able to earn a degree in Psychology from the Philippine Women’s University.

Bolivar would later work as an au pair (foreign household helper) for a family in Luxembourg. That’s where her mother her father named, Thierry Fourniol.

“If it were not for ERDA, I wouldn’t exist, and my mother would still be living in poverty in Negros,” Gwen said.

Gwen’s mother is now a nurse in London while her father is a senior analyst in Belgium.

Through the Miss World Philippines contest, Gwen hoped to raise awareness of how the ERDA foundation can open up opportunities for more Filipino children to finish their studies.

“There is a misconception that women should be the ones to stay home and keep house and raise the children, and are therefore given less opportunities to study. My mother, because of the opportunity that was opened to her by the ERDA Foundation, was able to send her 6 siblings to school,” the Negros Occidental bet said.

“This says so much about the power of women to uplift their families out of poverty. We should push equal rights for education regardless of gender,” she added.

In a separate Facebook post, Gwen reiterated her goal of providing children with the right to access education.

“I’m working hand in hand with ERDA Foundation, Inc. who are taking care of children, segregated from their human right to access education,” Gwen said.

“All I’ve ever longed for as a little girl is to live in a world where light overpowers darkness, and working with ERDA foundation has given me that faith in humanity that as a community we can work together to build an environment that is in harmony,” she added.

Last year, Gwen finished her journey in the top 15th of the Miss World Philippines competition.

Tracy Maureen Perez, a Cebuana beauty, is the reigning queen.

READ: Fans blame nearly 7 hours-long coronation night for Miss World PH Tracy Maureen Perez’s fall 

Perez finished among the top 12 finalists of the 70th edition of Miss World in Puerto Rico last March.

READ: Beauty queens cheer Tracy Maureen Perez after Miss World 2021 top 12 finish 

Miss World PH 2022 coronation night is set on June 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.