Congratulations Lena on this accomplishment. :-) I wish you the best of luck at Miss Worlds and am so proud that you are this year's Canadian representative!!!
The Miss World pageant tries to promote it's Beauty with a Purpose campaign, advocating that it is more than a 'strictly' beauty competition. Many pageants are following suit by incorporating self-development and community-building workshops to the pageant agenda. Fundraising is also a large component in some pageants and at Miss World Canada, the contestants were successful in raising more than $25,000 for the SOS Children's Village charity!!!
That being said, I don't think pageants will ever escape the public's stereotypical view of it and with good reason: the final show is essentially a parade of girls in an evening gown and/or swim suit and in a few catchy/cute choreographed scenes. The interview portion, let's face it, rarely includes difficult questions and what scores you points aren't philosophical/theoretical/complex answers, but happy "world peace" answers (not literally, "world peace" but you know, optimistic, Ghandi-be-the-change-that-you-wish-to-see answers).
Pageants aren't BAD though. Pageants have always fascinated me and I participated in a few a couple years ago. I enjoyed it, I made friends and I learned about myself in the process. I even learned etiquette rules that I still find helpful today while I'm networking at professional cocktail parties with investment bankers and lawyers! And all the make-up, clothes, shoes, and jewelry I received when I competed and won?? that's DEFINITELY a good thing in my books :-).