A MISTER and Miss Gypsy competition hopes to give a ‘helping hand’ to one of Spain’s minorities.

The competition – currently auditioning in Madrid – aims to help gypsy teenagers aspire to education, by judging contestants on their intelligence, interests and ambitions.

Figures show that a majority of Spain’s 725,000 gypsies leave school at 16, and that unemployment is as high as 36% in some areas – 10% higher than the national average.

One competition hopeful said: “People have started to realise now that you can’t get married so soon because you’re tying yourself down to being a housewife when you’re still a child.”

Organisers hope to ‘empower’ the young people, persuading them that there is more to life than marrying young and having babies.