MISS South Africa 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida has been recognised by the United Nations and Glamour magazine for her contribution to remove the stigma attached to issues of mental health.
Her first acknowledgement came when Shudu was invited by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to serve as its regional champion.
In accepting the position, Shudu described the intersection between the trauma experienced by women who do not have control over their own bodies and mental illness. She said she intends to let women and girls know that gender-based violence, rape, unwanted pregnancies and challenges around their reproductive health is not something they have to live with, and this will be done during her service as regional champion.
Shudu said she is overwhelmed by the accolades that have been bestowed on her, and that one thing she is happy about is that this acknowledgement is proof that her work in the mental health space is not going unnoticed.
“The more we can get the word out there, the better it is all round. I am so happy to receive this attention, because it means mental health is getting a voice,” she said
UNFPA regional director for East and Southern Africa’s Lydia Zigomo said Shudu’s advocacy for mental health awareness is something she devoted the year of her reign to and would see her empower young women and girls in the region, especially in the areas of sexual and reproductive health.
Explaining Shudu’s role, Zigomo said that Shudu will address the challenges that surround mental health, while dealing with misunderstood, stigmatised and often left untreated.
“UNFPA is at the forefront of healing when crisis strikes and therefore providing lifesaving sexual and reproductive health services, and integrating services for gender-based violence, mental health and psychosocial support,” she said.
In 2021, Shudu was given the coveted cover on two issues of the magazine and was chosen as the Glamour Woman of the Year 2022 in the Mental Health Game Changer category.
According to Nontando Mposo, Glamour editor-in-chief, the recognition was for her work and dedication in educating and shining a spotlight on mental health through her initiative “Mindful Mondays”, which provided education and information around mental health wellness.