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Media captionIs the Miss Wales pageant fit for purpose?

Entry rules for the Miss Wales pageant are “outdated” and breach the Equality Act, it has been claimed.

Sarah Sweeney, of the Women’s Equality Network (WEN) Wales said entry rules were “not fit for the 21st Century”.

Entrants to the competition must be between 16 and 26 years old, be unmarried and have never had children.

Organiser Paula Abbandonatto said she wants to create a “feminist army” and sees it as her “duty” to empower the contestants.

She added there were other pageants available if women fell outside of the Miss Wales rules.

Ms Sweeney, project officer at WEN Wales, said: “There’s dual discrimination where you treat women unfavourably because of pregnancy and because of their age and this obviously sends out negative messages to women and girls all over Wales.

“As a feminist organisation, we aren’t in favour of this type of competition, but we understand and respect a woman’s choice to enter a beauty pageant such as Miss Wales.”

Image caption Miss Wales, a franchise of the Miss World pageant, has been running since the 1950s

The 2019 competition took place on Saturday and was won by Gabriella Jukes from Port Talbot.

The 22-year-old said the final had been a “celebration of who we are”.

Miss Wales, a franchise of the Miss World pageant, has been running since the 1950s and about 1,000 women and girls apply each year, with the winner guaranteed a place at the worldwide competition.

Contestants this year raised funds for the Miss World charity Beauty With A Purpose, as well as taking part in the International Women’s Day #BalanceforBetter campaign.

Image caption This year’s contestants walked over glass during an empowerment workshop

Ms Abbandonatto said she wants to create an army of feminist role models “parading around Wales, showing girls how to live their best life”.

She said contestants are given an empowerment workshop and the competition is a “journey in personal development”.

She added: “It wouldn’t take a lot of Googling to find a pageant for every age, every shape, every size. So we’re not the only one. If you want to be in a beauty pageant you can be, whether you’re married or not.”

Image caption Helen Morgan – 1974’s Miss Wales – had to give up her crown because of her baby son

In 1974, Miss Wales winner Helen Morgan went on to win Miss World, but resigned a few days later after admitting she had an 18-month- old son back home in Barry.

Speaking at the time, Miss Morgan said it had been a “great strain” but “had to come out in the open”.

Miss World has been asked to comment.

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