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Taking up space, being true to yourself, makes it easy to rise above the noise – Miss Universe and UN Women Ambassador, Zozibini Tunzi

Zozibini Tunzi

Written by Staff Writer

November 1, 2022

By Sinazo Mkoko

Former Miss Universe and UN Women Ambassador, Zozibini Tunzi was among the global industry leaders, futurists, entrepreneurs, policymakers and philanthropists who formed part of this year’s edition of the Standard Bank Top Virtual Women Conference

Now in its seventh year, the event welcomed more than 12 000 c-suites, decision-makers and established entrepreneurs from across the world, making the largest virtual gatherings of African businesswomen on the continent.

This two full-day immersive conference featured multiple breakaway sessions, live Q&A sessions, remote meetups, and access to fast-track networking sessions for top women and women-led companies — amplifying both individual and company successes in diversity and inclusion while celebrating #RiseAboveTheNoise. Known for the iconic phrase calling for women and young girls to “take up space” which essentially means being present, finding your purpose and believing that your voice is valid while ensuring that you leave your mark and representing others, Zozibini Tunzi shared her story of how she got to where she is right now and the importance of creating and embracing a culture of change. 

If you missed the conference, you can catch up here. 



Here are a few key takeaways from former Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi 

  • During her reign as Miss South Africa, she was advised by outsiders to not be vocal about social issues and politics because brands and the Miss Universe might not like it but it was those conversations that made her win the global pageant.
  • I was among the students who were in debt during the Fees Must Fall movement and I struggled to enter into the advertising agency.
  • Being eliminated from the Miss SA pageant on my first attempt was disappointing and I doubted myself. 
  • It was a shepherd who was herding a flock of sheep who told her that while she didn’t make it to the finals on her first attempt, many children in the village still looked up to her and that was a motivation for her to try again. 
  • I’d tell my younger self to pace herself and do things in her own way and on her own terms.
  • It’s important to take up space in your whole true identity and authenticity, so it becomes easier to rise above the noise
  • People who came before us showed that it’s possible to achieve your dreams, no matter how big they are. 
  • The next culture shift will be to celebrate superheroes that look like us. And to show the world that women can be diverse and can be so many things all at once.
  • The world has set women up against each other, we need to dismantle the patriarchy and work from the ground up to fix this challenge. 

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