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Miss World PH 2022 Gwendolyne Fourniol on househelp mom, education as way out of poverty

Kathleen A. Llemit - Philstar.com
Miss World PH 2022 Gwendolyne Fourniol on househelp mom, education as way out of poverty
Miss World Philippines 2022 Gwendolyne Fourniol spends a day with children at ERDA Foundation. The Filipino-French beauty queen believes that education can change a life just like it did with her mother who graduated as a scholar and found work abroad.
ERDA Foundation / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Newly crowned Miss World Philippines 2022 Gwendolyne Fourniol knows the value of education. The Filipino-French Negrense beauty reiterated that it is a right and a way out of poverty during her coronation night last June.

"Education is the greatest weapon against poverty," said Gwendolyne during the question and answer portion.  

The 22-year-old beauty knows its power because her mother, Sim, was a living proof of how education can change a life.



“My mother, Sim, grew up in poverty in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental. There were seven children in the family and only one sibling was given the opportunity to study. Losing hope for her future, she found her way to Manila to stay with a cousin and it was there that she met Fr. Pierre T. Tritz, SJ, who founded ERDA in 1974 to give underprivileged but deserving children the opportunity to study,” shared Gwendolyne.

Educational Research and Development (ERDA), Inc. is a non-stock, non-profit organization registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Gwendolyne's mother was able to obtain a degree in Psychology from the Philippine Women’s University, and was able to work as an au pair (foreign household helper) for a family in Luxembourg. It is where she met Thierry Fourniol at a park.

“If it were not for ERDA, I wouldn’t exist, and my mother would still be living in poverty in Negros,” Gwen added.

Her mother is currently working as a nurse in London, while her father is working as a senior analyst in Belgium.

Gwendolyne could have chosen to stay in France where she grew up but she decided to settle in the Philippines when she was 18. It is when she decided to pursue her advocacy for education for all.

The beauty queen is aware that the pandemic affected the education of most children. She is hoping that the situation will be better and will allow them to go back to classes.

"Working hand in hand with ERDA Foundation to empower the marginalized Filipino, I believe by uniting benefactors and encouraging our children and allowing them to go back to school especially during this pandemic will make this world a better place," answered Gwendolyne during the pageant night.

The beauty queen also underscored the importance of inclusive education because it enabled her mother to pursue one.



“There is a misconception that women should be the ones to stay home and keep house and raise the children, and are therefore given less opportunities to study. My mother, because of the opportunity that was opened to her by the ERDA Foundation, was able to send her six siblings to school. This says so much about the power of women to uplift their families out of poverty. We should push equal rights for education regardless of gender.”

Gwendolyne was an Economics student at Oxford Brooks in London when she joined her first Miss World Philippines pageant last year. She hopes to intern at JP Morgan after graduation and looks forward to launching a French tutorial service in the Philippines.

RELATED: Catriona Gray laments big number of dropouts from supported charity Young Focus

MISS WORLD PHILIPPINES

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