Model Veronika Didusenko launches discrimination challenge against Miss World after losing crown for having a child

A beauty queen is mounting a legal challenge against Miss World after she was stripped of her national title - for being a mother.

Model Veronika Didusenko had won Miss Ukraine in 2018, but just days later she had her crown removed after it was discovered she had a five-year-old son.

She has now announced a court battle against Miss World, which is the world's biggest beauty pageant and sets the rules for national competitions around the world.

The competition relies on rules originally written in 1951, a time when the world was significantly more divided and segregated.

"It's not about getting the crown back, it's about showing that women are able to achieve whatever they want, regardless of whether they have children, a husband or not," she told ITV News.

'I was humiliated after being stripped of my title'

Veronika Didusenko's Instagram is full of loving photos with her son. Credit: Veronika Didusenko / Instagram

Veronika's battle against the beauty pageant began when she received a call shortly after being crowned Miss Ukraine.

"I was phoned after the final and asked if I had a child. I felt humiliated and embarrassed to be disqualified for answer yes," she said.

She rose to win Miss Ukraine after entering a series of local and regional competitions to raise the profile of a charity she partners with, which helps children improve their maths skills.

She claimed those pageants don't have the same rules on children.

"It's the 21st century. It's so outdated and old fashioned. Just look at women like Jacinda Ardern, she's the prime minister of New Zealand and setting an example for women."

Mrs Ardern was the second world leader to give birth whilst in office, the first being Pakistani premier Benazir Butto in 1990.

She complained to Miss World that children cannot act as a barrier to employment.

After being refused the return of her crown, she launched a legal challenge to force the pageant to set an example.

"Being a mother has had no implication on my ability to carry out charity work, what would they say if I were a lawyer or a Olympic athlete?"

So how can a Ukranian beauty queen force a international pageant to allow mothers to take part?

Under the Equality Act 2010, it's illegal to discriminate against certain protected characteristics, including marriage, maternity and sex.

London-based Miss World must comply with the rules as a UK registered company.

"This is a systemic, widespread and international policy that may result in discrimination on large scale across many countries," believes Mrs Didusenko's lawyer, Ravi Naik.

"Veronika is nobly and rightly trying to get the rules changed not for her but for wider society," he said.

She hopes her campaign will pick up traction, using the hashtag #RightToBeAMother to promote it on social media.

"I've had hundreds of messages from around the world of support - with support we can change and that's empowering," she said.

ITV News contacted Miss World for comment.