18 Badass Women You Probably Didn’t Hear About In 2014

Badass women alert.

1. The woman who launched Saudi Arabia’s first all-woman law firm.

Stringer / Reuters


Bayan Mahmoud al-Zahran opened the country’s first female law firm, where she’ll represent women and bring women’s rights issues into the courts.

“I believe women lawyers can contribute a lot to the legal system,” al-Zahran said. “This law firm will make a difference in the history of court cases and female disputes in the Kingdom. I am very hopeful and thank everyone who supported me in taking this historical step.”

2. The woman who became a symbol of the fight against fracking in Canada.

Amanda Polchies got on her knees to pray at an anti-fracking protest in New Brunswick, Canada, holding up her “weapon” at armed police: a feather.

The woman was then turned into a meme on the internet: the Woman With Eagle Feather.

3. The Brazillian women who protested against rape in powerful photos after 65% of respondents in a survey agreed that “if dressed provocatively, women deserve to be attacked and raped”.


“Whether I’m in a burqa or naked, I don’t deserve to be raped.”

4. The 600 volunteers who added 101 female artists to Wikipedia.

The Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon @brooklynmuseum is under way! #Art+Feminism #projectcontinua #Readwomen2014

— Project Continua (@FemaleBiography)

The volunteers who took part in the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon added in the names of female artists who deserved to be recognised.

5. The women in Afghanistan who defied death threats from the Taliban by taking part in elections.

Bad ass women alert. RT @euamiri: Impressive women turn out in western Kabul. #afghanelection

— bad ass woman alert (@badass_w)

6. The 13-year-old girl who called out a surfing magazine for its depiction of women.


Here’s the letter Olive Bowers sent to Tracks magazine:

Dear Tracks Surf Magazine,

I want to bluntly address the way you represent women in your magazine. I am a surfer, my dad surfs and my brother has just started surfing.

Reading a Tracks magazine I found at my friend’s holiday house, the only photo of a woman I could find was ”Girl of the month”. She wasn’t surfing or even remotely near a beach. Since then I have seen some footage of Stephanie Gilmore surfing on your website, but that’s barely a start.

I clicked on your web page titled ”Girls” hoping I might find some women surfers and what they were up to, but it entered into pages and pages of semi-naked, non-surfing girls.

These images create a culture in which boys, men and even girls reading your magazine will think that all girls are valued for is their appearance.

My posse of female surfers and I are going to spread the word and refuse to purchase or promote Tracks magazine. It’s a shame that you can’t see the benefits of an inclusive surf culture that in fact, would add a whole lot of numbers to your subscription list.

I urge you to give much more coverage to the exciting women surfers out there, not just scantily clad women (who may be great on the waves, but we’ll never know).

I would subscribe to your magazine if only I felt that women were valued as athletes instead of dolls. This change would only bring good.


7. The first woman to take part in a Formula One race weekend in 22 years.

Phil Noble / Reuters

Susie Wolff, you are a badass.

8. The American nuns who announced their support for contraception.

Stefano Rellandini / Reuters

The National Coalition of American Nuns said: “We want to make clear that the sin is not a person using birth control. The sin is denying women the right and the means to plan their families.”

9. The 13-year-old girl who became the youngest climber to scale Mount Everest.

Malavath Poorna said: “I come from a very poor family… Climbing the Everest was certainly more difficult than I thought – but my willpower to prove that a tribal girl can do something kept me going.”

10. The woman who beat the women’s *and* men’s record for most consecutive marathons after running 53 of them.

“If someone suggested running a 54th marathon I probably would to be honest,” Amy Hughes said.

11. The first-ever female air-guitar champion was crowned in the UK.

Winner Charlotte Clarke said: “It feels absolutely amazing to win because ever since I started I’ve wanted to be the first female champion.”

12. The first time a woman won the Fields maths medal happened.

News1 / Reuters

Professor Maryam Mirzakhani, you are amazing.

13. The first Woman Party was established in Turkey to seek equal political representation for women.

Umit Bektas / Reuters

Benal Yazgan, the chair of the party, said: “Once again, hegemony is being passed from man to man. The patriarchy is the same; they always leave women out and pass the roles amongst themselves.”

14. This runner killing it in a 4x400 relay race. JUST LOOK AT HER RUN.

Floria Guei won the final leg of the 4×400m race at the European Championships in August.

15. The Saudi women who participated in the #Women2Drive campaign this year, defying a ban on women being allowed to drive in their country.

Good morning #Saudi #women2drive

— Tamara Cofman Wittes (@tcwittes)

16. When Indian actress Mallika Sherawat shut down a reporter for asking her to stay silent on the issue of women’s rights.

17. The hundreds of women in Kenya that protested on the streets in Nairobi after a woman was attacked and stripped by men in public who believe she was “dressed indecently” for wearing a mini skirt.

Noor Khamis / Reuters

The women were demanding justice and defending their right to wear what they want.

18. When actor Maisie Williams called out the entertainment industry for trying to make her regret wearing the same dress twice.

Praise be to @Maisie_Williams

— Talie Delemere (@TalieDelemere)

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Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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