Meet Rita Houkayem: The Empowering Force of Miss Universe Canada 2018

15 Aug 2018 | Irina Silva

The finale of Miss Universe Canada 2018 is scheduled to happen on 18th August 2018 at John Bassett Theatre, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto. At the end of the finale, the reigning Miss Universe Canada 2017 Lauren Howe will crown her successor who will then go on to represent Canada in Miss Universe 2018 on 16th December 2018, in Thailand.

But before the finale, in a series of features, Angelopedia has selected the top 20 contestants who are most likely to win the contest. Meet contestant number 11, from Angeloepdia’s favourite contestants, 26-year-old Rita Houkayem from Toronto, Ontario.


Meet Rita Houkayem: The Empowering Force of Miss Universe Canada 2018


Rita considers herself a global citizen, a public servant and a humanitarian. With a Master’s degree in International Affairs and a Bachelor in International Development Studies, French and Political Science, her continuous exposure to world issues has passionately driven her to make a difference in improving people’s lives. With her eternal love for education, Rita hopes to complete an MBA and PhD and work towards a righteous world.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. With that in mind, Rita hopes to become an influential leader for her country and world. This has been a passion of hers for a long time; the Miss Universe Canada platform will simply allow her to achieve it at a much faster pace.


Meet Rita Houkayem: The Empowering Force of Miss Universe Canada 2018


Her recent international student experience in Paris had exposed her to like-minded change makers and current and future global leaders. She was also hired by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a development consultant to provide support in programs and publications on gender equality and comprehensive sexuality education in schools, striving to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, 4 and 5. As an intersectional feminist, Rita’s experience with the UN has shaped her into a fierce advocate for gender equality and women empowerment.

Rita’s globetrotting nature, adventurous spirit and polyglot skills have been enriched through her constant encounters with dazzling cultures, remarkable people and astonishing places. She has explored over 25 countries and over 60 major cities but has never felt so proud to be Canadian. In fact, Rita attributes her cosmopolitan identity to being born in Canada and raised in one of the most strikingly diverse cities in the world, Toronto, which has always allowed her to celebrate her dual heritage as a proud Canadian Lebanese. Rita is an active leader in her community and has founded a national chapter which seeks to promote her culture and connect her diasporic community together. She is also the United Nations DPI/NGO Representative for her cultural organization and promotes its initiatives at the UN platform.


Meet Rita Houkayem: The Empowering Force of Miss Universe Canada 2018

(Photo Credits: Rita Houkayem Instagram Official)

A former titleholder of various pageants, Rita was also on the other side of the pageant world. At only 22, she was the National Director for the Miss Emigrant Canada pageant where she mentored young beautiful ladies to proudly represent their heritage on stage and become active agents of their community. Besides volunteering and spending time with her loved ones, Rita maintains a healthy and active lifestyle through daily cycling, dancing, marathoning, hiking, martial arts and yoga.

Rita is currently working for the Government of Canada as a Policy Analyst focusing on various themes and programs related to Internet governance and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). On a personal level, she also advocates in reaching Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy by advancing gender equality and bridging the gender digital gap through an array of national and international initiatives. She believes that digital technologies are powerful catalysts to driving inclusive and sustainable growth but women’s participation is fundamental.

As Nelson Mendela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Rita is a firm believer that investing in the youth through education is key to a peaceful world and has dedicated over 15 years of her life volunteering and working with young people in various education settings. In fact, complimented by her entrepreneurial spirit, Rita is working on opening a Montessori school with her mother among various other educational ventures she hopes to accomplish on a global scale in the near future. She is also working with an international NGO, the Opeduca Project, which seeks to train young people into becoming changemakers and develop the next generation of leaders.

Text courtesy: Miss Universe Canada 2018