Zanib Naveed said she entered the Miss Pakistan World beauty pageant for the simplest of reasons -- because she could.
The 25-year-old from Sloatsburg said the idea of a beauty pageant was foreign to her before her family moved to Rockland County from Pakistan in 1987. Such pageants don't exist in the devoutly Muslim nation, and they're controversial even among Pakistani expats.
When Naveed heard about Miss Pakistan World -- the only beauty pageant for women of Pakistani heritage -- she decided to give it a try.
"I didn't think I was going to win," Naveed told News12 Westchester.
But win she did, earning her crown on Aug. 24 in Toronto, where the pageant took place.
Miss Pakistan World was founded in 2002 by Sonia Ahmed, an entrepreneur who says the pageant is about civil rights as much as it is about beauty. Winners go on to compete in the annual Miss Earth beauty contests. Naveed will represent Pakistan at the next Miss Earth event in November.
Naveed is a Pace University graduate with a degree in business administration and said she entered the contest to defy stereotypes about Pakistani women.
"I want to show people that I'm Pakistani and I am a woman of the year 2012," Naveed said.
She said she hopes she can inspire other Pakistani-American women "who think they can't do something like this," as well as people still living in Pakistan.
"I grew up in Pakistan. I experienced it, where women were abused and women weren't treated right," Naveed said. Her goal, she said, is to help other women "to gain confidence, to stand up for your rights."