The 22-year-old beauty queen was crowned the winner Sunday night out of 92 women from around the world.
Nel-Peters focused her Miss Universe platform on self-defense, after she was “hijacked and held at gunpoint” one month after winning Miss South Africa. The incident inspired her to start a program to help women avoid the same fate.
“As Miss South Africa, I was able to launch my own campaign called Unbreakable. My campaign consists of getting specialists in their field together to equip women around South Africa with the necessary skills and knowledge on how to empower themselves — not only emotionally, but physically as well,” she explained in a video.
Nel-Peters wants to show women that they have a support system.
“I think the important thing is to know that we all have things as humans that we go through,” she said. “It’s okay not to have a perfect life, and it’s okay to have emotions, and have feelings.
If we are able to express our feelings more and share them with others, it’s so much easier to work through when you know there are people holding your hands and walking through this with you.”
Nel-Peters said she gets her drive to succeed from her half-sister, who has a disability.
“She was born without a cerebellum and is completely disabled,” Nel-Peters told South African radio station Jacaranda FM in March. “She is my biggest motivator in life (and she has the most beautiful lashes any girl can dream of).”
Nel-Peters got raves online during the show for her smart answer to a question about the most important issue women face in the workplace.
“In some places, women get paid 75 percent of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours, and I do not believe that is right,” she said. “I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world.”
Just a few months before taking the stage in Las Vegas, Nel-Peters earned her degree in business management at South Africa’s North West University.
“Today was about taking a moment to stop, look back and appreciate the hard work and dedication that I have put into educating myself,” she wrote on Instagram on her graduation day. “This is one great hill done and dusted. Now for the many more to come.”
If there’s a new workout class out there, Nel-Peters has probably already tried it. She’s a fan of trying all different fitness methods, from going on a normal 10K run to wearing a high-tech electrical bodysuit.
Nel-Peters often posts videos from her training sessions at Bodytec South Africa, where they combine body weight moves with electrical muscle stimulation.
“After a 20min session I felt like I did two hours of heavy weight training,” she raved about the class.