17 Badass Women You Probably Didn’t Hear About In 2016
1. This girl who stared down a riot policeman during a protest in Chile to remember the country’s disappeared.
The unidentified girl took part in a protest to mark the anniversary of Chile’s 1973 military coup.
According to La Tercera, the photo was taken after police began randomly arresting people from a group marching through the city. The photographer, Carlos Vera Mancilla, said the girl then “reacted and stood before the policeman with a defiant look”.
2. Las Hijas de Violencia, a group of women in Mexico who fight street harassment by firing confetti guns at the harassers and singing punk music.
The women, based in Mexico City, decided to tackle street harassment by forming a performance art group. Every time a man catcalls one of the members while they’re out in public, the group sing their theme song, “Sexista Punk", and shoot confetti from a toy gun at the harasser.
3. Megan Hine, the survival expert who helps keep adventure-seekers like Bear Grylls safe in dangerous and remote locations with her expertise on all things nature.
In an interview with The Guardian, she said she's survived being attacked by lions and was once chased through the jungle by an armed drug gang. Oh, and she can light a fire with a tampon, too.
4. Balkissa Chaibou, who risked her life by saying no to being married off to her cousin when she was 16 years old. She's now a campaigner taking a stand against forced marriage for girls.
Chaibou is currently at medical school, pursuing her dream of being a doctor.
"When I was little, I was dreaming of becoming a doctor. Take care of people, wear the white coat. Help people," she told the BBC. "The advice I have for you is to fight – study with all your might. I know studying isn't easy but you must force yourself because those studies are your only hope."
5. Amna Suleiman, who is leading a group of women who cycle in public in Gaza, challenging the unwritten ban on women cycling after puberty.
Suleiman is helping other women defy cultural norms by encouraging and leading women to cycle in public, something that is seen as violating "social decency and tradition".
"Riding a bike makes you feel like you are flying," Suleiman told the New York Times. "I feel free."
6. Marley Dias, the 11-year-old girl who is collecting thousands of books about black girls and campaigning to promote diversity in children's literature.
Dias has collected more than 7,000 books about black girls and is calling for better diversity in children's books with her #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign.
"In my fifth-grade class, I saw that books weren’t featuring black girls, and those were the books being assigned. So I told my mom, and she said, 'Well, what are you going to do about it?' So that’s really how the campaign started," she told American Libraries. "It’s something I’m really passionate about."
7. The three judges who made history by convicting a commander for rapes committed by his troops during a conflict.
The three judges, Joyce Aluoch (left), Sylvia Steiner (middle), and Kuniko Ozaki (right) were behind the first ever rape conviction at the International Criminal Court, finding former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba guilty of murder and rape during the 2002–03 conflict in the Central African Republic.
"One can’t help but wonder if a panel of three men would have come to the same conclusion," the UN Dispatch mused.
8. Negin Khpalwak, the 19-year-old who leads an Afghan all-female orchestra who risk their lives by playing music. It is the first ever all-female ensemble in the country's history.
The Zohra orchestra say they want to transform the international perception of their country and raise awareness of women's rights issues.
Khpalwak, who has been shunned by her family and received death threats because of her role in the orchestra, told Reuters: "I will never accept defeat. 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.”
9. Maminydjama Maymuru, the Aboriginal teenager who is smashing stereotypes and making modelling history.
The 19-year-old is the first Indigenous model to represent the Northern Territory in the Miss World Australia competition.
"Maymuru is smashing stereotyped notions of blonde, blue-eyed beauty,” one expert told The Conversation.
10. Ibtihaj Muhammad, the fencer who become the first US athlete to compete at the Olympics in a hijab.
Muhammad – who says she has been subjected to racist abuse because of her skin colour and religion – told ESPN: "I wasn't going to allow other people's misconceptions to change my journey."
She added: "I'm just your basic hijabi Zorro."
11. Yusra Mardini, the Syrian refugee who killed it at the Rio Olympics.
Mardini once risked her life by swimming for three hours to save 20 refugees as they made the journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
12. Peggy Whitson, who at 56 years old became the oldest woman ever in space.
Whitson, who has travelled to space twice before, arrived at the International Space Station in November.
"Do your best, be positive, dream BIG," she said on Twitter, where she shares her adventures with her followers.
13. Reshma Qureshi, the woman who survived an acid attack and went on to walk in a show at New York Fashion Week.
“Why should we not enjoy our lives? What happened to us is not our fault and we’ve done nothing wrong and so we should also move forward in life,” she said before appearing on the catwalk.
She added: “I want to tell the world – do not see us in a weak light and see that even we can go out and do things."
14. The all-female protection team who guarded Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, on a visit to the United Arab Emirates.
Shaima al-Kaabi, Basima al-Kaabi, Hannan al-Hatawi, Nisreen al-Hamawi, and Salama al-Remeithi made up the badass team picked from the UAE's elite private presidential guard to protect the duchess.
Earlier this year, Shaima, Nisreen, and Hannan also climbed Mount Everest.
15. America's indigenous women and girls protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in a historic fight to protect their land.
Photos taken by a campaigner, who can be found on Twitter here.
“To me, this is really about the fundamental connection between us as native peoples and our homelands,” Adrienne Keene, a professor who has been working to raise awareness about what’s been happening at the Standing Rock protest site, told BuzzFeed.
16. The thousands of women in Iceland who left work at 2:38pm in protest against the country’s gender pay gap.
Experts say there is an estimated 14–18% pay gap between women and men in Iceland, meaning that in an eight-hour work day, women are essentially working without pay from 2:38pm.
17. Tess Asplund, the woman who was photographed in this iconic snap standing up to 300 neo-Nazis at a Swedish far-right rally.
“It was an impulse. I was so angry, I just went out into the street,” Asplund told The Guardian. “I was thinking: hell no, they can’t march here! I had this adrenaline. No Nazi is going to march here, it’s not okay.”