14 Asian Women Who Are Changing The World
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After swimming for more than three hours to get her boat to land when the small dinghy full of refugees began to capsize, Yusra Mardini, an 18-year-old Syrian, competed in the
2016 Olympic games. She said about tackling the dehumanisation of refugees like her: “I want everyone to think refugees are normal people [with] dreams in their lives."
Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images
Award-winning Taiwanese-American actress Constance Wu has been a critical voice in calling out the lack of diversity in mainstream media. She spoke up on the whitewashing of
and spoke about Ghost in the Shell telling real stories, saying: "What I want is to foster the Asian-American writers and directors and producers and actors, to foster their stories to come into the spotlight a little bit."
Despite threats and her family's disapproval, Afghan teenager Negin Khpalwak fell in love with music and now leads an orchestra of 35 women at the Afghanistan National Institute for Music. "I will never accept defeat,"
she told Reuters. "I will continue to play music. I do not feel safe, but when people see me and say, 'That is Negin Khpalwak,' that gives me energy."
Elaine Thompson / AP
In 2016, Pramila Jayapal became the first Indian-American woman to serve in the House of Representatives. Before entering electoral politics she founded
Hate Free Zone (now known as OneAmerica), an advocacy group for immigrants, and campaigned for the rights of immigrants, women, and people of colour.
Business consultant, professor, and politician Stephanie Murphy became the first Vietnamese-American woman to be elected to Congress in 2016. She was the first woman in her family to go to college and now has a role in
Support Our Scholars, a nonprofit organization that helps economically challenged young women attend college.
Turkish transgender rights activist and playright Seyhan Arman spoke out against the
murder of Hande Kader in 2016 and aims to improve the lives of trans people in Turkey, which has the highest murder rate of trans people in Europe. She sees herself as an older sister to young trans women, and reassures them that "Life is good. Everything will be alright in the end."
Bryan R. Smith / AFP / Getty Images
After escaping an arranged marriage at age 16 by uploading a rap video called "
Daughters for Sale" and uploading it to YouTube, Alizadeh became a prominent Afghan rapper and activist working against her country's practice of selling child brides. She currently attends university in the US on a full scholarship, and starred in a winning documentary about her life at Seattle International Film Festival in 2016.
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Chrissy Teigen, an American model of Norwegian and Thai descent, is consistently speaking up about injustices in her industry. This year she discussed the pressure on women to lose weight after having a baby, fuelled by misleading
celeb weight-loss stories. She also called out the lack of diversity in the Miss Teen USA pageant and generally had the best Twitter of all.
After witnessing half of the 40 girls in her class at Jordan's Za'atari refugee camp drop out of school to get married, Syrian Muzoon Almellehan began campaigning to keep Syrian girls in school. She told
, "If your marriage isn’t working, education can be a weapon to escape. If you are not educated then nothing can protect you." Almellehan hopes to return to Syria after training as a journalist. The Guardian
Atta Kenare / AFP / Getty Images
Asieh Amini is an Iranian poet, journalist, and women's rights activist who fights against honour killings and injustices towards women in Iran's judicial system. She founded the
Stop Stoning Forever Campaign in 2006. After receiving death threats, Amini relocated her family to Norway, where she is continuing her writing and activism, and is studying for a master’s in equality and diversity.
In Gee Chun
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In Gee Chun, a 22-year-old South Korean golfer, won the Evian Championship this year. Despite just becoming a full-time golf pro in 2016, she not only won with a score that broke the record for women but also broke the record for anyone ever.
Trevor Collens / AFP / Getty Images
Indian model, vlogger, and acid attack survivor Reshma Qureshi has been working with Make Love Not Scars, a nonprofit that helps with the rehabilitation of acid attack survivors, since 2014. In 2016 she walked the runway at
New York Fashion Week. She said: "This walk was important to me because there are so many girls like me who are survivors of acid attacks, and this will give them courage."
Habiba Da Silva
Habiba Da Silva, a 22-year-old fashion designer of Lebanese and Brazilian descent, created a hijab line called Skin, in a range of nude colours complimenting all skin tones. She told
BuzzFeed News: "I wanted to do something where everybody was [included] and I wanted to showcase different people together."
In Gaza, where it is frowned upon for women past the age of puberty to cycle publicly, Amna Suleiman is leader of a cycling club for women. A Qur'an teacher and orphanage volunteer, Suleiman has collected a group who feel a shared defiance against the expectations of women. She
describes how “riding a bike makes you feel like you are flying". BuzzFeed Daily
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