Manika Sheokand, who won the title of VLCC Femina Miss Grand India 2020, visualized the happy faces of her parents when her name was announced as one of the three title crown winners at the beauty pageant that took place in Mumbai on February 10. 

"The moment my name was announced, my parents' face just flashed in front of me. I thought that they must be so proud of me,” she told Opoyi soon after her big win. 

Being a National level netball player, Manika recalls how her family had to experience the age-old misogynist culture of treating a girl child as a burden especially when it is the second one in the family.

“I am the second daughter of my parents and in the 1990s, having a second girl child was considered as a burden. My family had to face the same experience from society and when I got to know about that I was really shocked because my parents bought me up in such a manner that made me strong, independent, have the voice of my own so that age-old mindset came as a shock for me,” she said.

However, she was quick to realize that this happens with every other family in her native land.

“Then I realized that this is just not me as there are so many other girls who face the same thing. Haryana has the lowest sex ratio so certain things need to be addressed and this is one issue I really feel needs more voice because at the end of the day we are all human beings and should be treated like one,” said the 25-year-old.

Though Manika was born in Chandigarh and finished her schooling from there, her native is from Haryana and she visits the states frequently to meet her extended family.

She says that she was always determined to prove her worth to the outside world and Femina Miss India's victory is a step towards that.

“I was determined to prove that I am an asset to society and not a liability. My mother and my sister are the biggest inspirations of my life. My mother has always been there with me emotionally and she has also kept me safe from the outside world when I was small. On the other hand, my sister has taught me how important it is to have ambition and passions and to work hard on that. They are the ones who created Manika,” she said.

She now has a message for her 'native land'

“I would like to tell the families of the girls to just raise them like a human being, teach them equality teach them to have the voice of their own, and just trust me, they will shine brighter than your son,” sums up Manika.

Liina Malinen is going to represent Finland at Miss Grand International 2020 scheduled to take place on March  27 in Thailand.