By Simon Abaho
Jeannette Uwimana has become the first deaf contestant to take part in Rwanda’s nation beauty pageant.
The 26-year-old from the south of the country is now in a boot camp with 20 others ahead of the Miss Rwanda finale in mid-March.
The annual contest is a popular event in Rwanda and followed eagerly on social media.
Her mother is not surprised by her success so far as she said that from her only daughter out of seven children had always been into fashion.
But previous attempts to participate in the pageant had been discouraged by those who questioned whether a deaf person was eligible for the competition.
In the preliminary rounds, Ms Uwimana used sign language, interpreted by her close friend Faïna Kabayiza, to communicate with the judges.
Meghan Nimwiza, a spokesperson for the competition and a previous winner, said the organisers were proud that Miss Rwanda was more inclusive this year.
Ms Uwimana’s participation has also been welcomed by the Rwanda’s deaf community. More than 33,000 people registered as being deaf during Rwanda’s last census in 2012.
The country has recently adopted a new law that sign language to be included in public communications.
Ms Uwimana thinks she is the best candidate to win the Miss Rwanda, telling the BBC: “I can confidently say that I possess all the requirements – beauty, brains and culture.”