Three months after Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters became Miss South Africa, her life took an unexpected turn.
It was in June 2017 when Nel-Peters was carjacked and held at gunpoint by five men, attempting to kidnap her in broad daylight.
Luckily, Nel-Peters put her self-defense lessons to use and punched one of the assailants in the throat as he tried to push her in the back of her car. This led her to flee the scene.
“It was so traumatizing,” Nel-Peters said at her NY Post photo shoot on the streets of Manhattan.
This led her to start a program called Unbreakable, a series of workshops in her home country that encourages women to stand up for themselves.
“If women take hands and stand together, we are unbreakable, and we can say no to the things that are wrong in the workplace, at home or wherever you might go,” the 22-year-old said in response to a fan-submitted question on what men and women can do to combat sexual misconduct.
“The Unbreakable campaign aims to educate, uplift and empower South African women. This they can start to do by taking care of themselves and making wise decisions,” she said.
Nel-Peters, an advocate of women’s rights, created the program which focuses on training women in self-defense.
“I empower women by getting experts to teach them the skills and knowledge to handle difficult situations,” said Nel-Peters. “I think if you’re in a nerve-racking and dangerous experience there’s no time to remember — ‘Oh I need to do this kick, and hit him there’ — but if you’re taught one movement that will save your life. We teach one skill, which is to punch the throat, because it’s something you can use when your life is in danger.”
Since being crowned Miss Universe in November, she wants to make her movement global.
“I hope to really use the Miss Universe platform to elevate the Unbreakable campaign, and hopefully host workshops all over the world,” she said. “Because traumatic incidents like mine are a reality all over the world.”
Unbreakable features different workshops rolling out at a number of venues throughout Gauteng, as well as one in Cape Town. Unbreakable takes place at Sun International’s Times Square in Pretoria and many community centers in Diepsloot, Soweto, Mamelodi, and Observatory. Workshops are free and are limited to 150 women.
“I felt like if we as women stand together and move forward as one, we can be unbreakable.”
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters is an excellent example of using one’s celebrity to campaign for women’s rights and helping women around the world. Her Unbreakable campaign is helping women grow stronger and more confident in their capabilities and strength.
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