Atlanta (USA) (AFP)

Zozibini Tunzi, Miss South Africa, was crowned Miss Universe 2019 Sunday night in Atlanta, after a ceremony where there was much talk of the right of women to self-determination.

The 26-year-old black woman finished in front of the Puerto Rican and Mexico contenders in a contest hosted by presenter Steve Harvey, where a panel of seven women judged the candidates.

Miss South Africa was warmly applauded after her last speech, a novelty in the competition, where she rightly declared that she wanted to do everything to encourage young girls to gain confidence in themselves.

"I grew up in a world where a woman like me, with my skin type and my hair type, was never considered beautiful," she regretted. "I think it's time for it to change today," she said to the audience's applause.

The short haired woman beat more than 90 other candidates to win the 68th Miss Universe title, and succeed Catriona Gray, Miss Philippines and Miss Universe 2018.

One of the favorites before the contest, Miss Philippines, did not qualify among the 10 finalists. The French Maëva Coucke did it, but did not reach the "top 5".

Miss Burma, Swe Zin Htet, was also eliminated before the final, which had made headlines last week by becoming the first openly gay candidate.

© 2019 AFP