Miss Universe Ireland 2021 Katharine Walker used her time on the Miss Universe stage last weekend to encourage social change. 

Walker, 27, is a registered nurse from Co Down and has been making headlines since donning a green and gold costume that said "Fair Pay for Nursing" and "Healthcare Hero" during the National Costume portion of the Miss Universe competition.

“Say it louder for the people in the back," Walker said in an Instagram post on December 11 after she competed.

“I am so so proud of this National costume design. When I found out I would be representing Ireland at Miss Universe this year, I knew I wanted my costume to have a message.

“I wanted something that was personal to me but also extremely relevant and impactful. I wanted to celebrate the work of my fellow healthcare workers and also to make a statement on nurses pay.

“I am not just representing Ireland on this stage, but every single healthcare worker, the real heroes of this world, who go above and beyond caring for others, those who work through their breaks and work overtime for no extra pay, those who help the most vulnerable through their darkest days.

“It is time to pay nurses fairly. Enough is enough.”

Walker thanked Call Me Sophia for creating the costume design, as well as the costume's sponsors Balmoral Healthcare and MK Awards.

The Miss Universe Ireland Instagram page also shared a video of Walker on the Miss Universe Stage. The caption explains that Walker “carried the names of Irish nurses on her back in honour of all our Healthcare Hero’s and to celebrate those working around the world to see us through the global pandemic. 

“Thank you for working tirelessly through these trying times. We appreciate you! It was very important to us to take this opportunity to take a stand and celebrate you!”

Before gracing the Miss Universe stage in her unique costume, Walker shared this heartfelt post on Instagram: “Why do I want to be Miss universe?

“I want to not just represent Ireland but also every single healthcare professional across the globe.

“What we have faced in the last almost 2 years through Covid-19 has been unimaginable, and so many of my colleagues have sacrificed a lot for the better of their patients.

“I don’t just want to represent nurses, but every tier of healthcare. Because we are a team.

“As Miss Universe, I would campaign for better pay for nurses because we know our worth and at present, we don’t get the respect we deserve.

“Healthcare workers care for the vulnerable and are a voice for them, but right now, our industry is vulnerable. And I want to be a voice for us. Because in order for us to care for others we need to care for ourselves.

“And finally, I want to celebrate the efforts around the world in this pandemic, those who go above and beyond every single day on the front line.”