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13 Badass Women And Girls You May Not Have Heard About In 2017

So get to know them now!

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1. Catherine V. Harry, a 23-year-old who's using social media to tear down Cambodia's sexist views of women.

View this video on YouTube

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Harry has built a popular blog and vlog series in Cambodia by talking about women's health, online harassment, sexual health, and beauty standards.

Some of the subjects are considered taboo in the country, where traditional gender roles are very much still the norm.

"No Cambodian person has ever done this before in Khmer," she told BuzzFeed News. "People see the reaction I get and people are scared by that. It's not very pleasant to get all the harassment and all the negativity."

However, she has many young fans, and a video she did on female virginity got over 2 million views. She hopes to start her own foundation someday.

2. Mikayla Holmgren, the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA state pageant.

Facebook, Miss Minnesota

The 22-year-old from Stillwater, Minnesota, won two prizes at the 2017 Miss Minnesota USA pageant: the Spirit of Miss USA Award and the Director's Award.

"I was super shocked, I was in tears," she told BuzzFeed News at the time. "I went from a special needs pageant to the biggest pageant in the world. It's kind of crazy."

Holmgren was inspired to enter the contest after winning the Minnesota Miss Amazing, a pageant for women with disabilities, in 2015. She is currently a student at Bethel University's Inclusive Learning and Development program, and plans to graduate next year.

Holmgren, who is also a dancer, said she hopes to prove to the world that women with Down syndrome can participate in the arts and "blaze a trail."

"I want to do some modeling and more dancing," she said. "I have a big future."

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3. Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person to be elected and seated in a US state legislature.

Doug Stroud / Via Courtesy Danica Roem

Roem, 32, beat incumbent Del. Bob Marshall, a Republican with anti-gay views, for a seat in the Virginia General Assembly.

She won 54% of the vote after a race that saw her opponent misgender her in interviews, saying she was a "male" who "goes against the laws of nature and nature's God.”

However, Roem brushed off the attacks and came out on top. "I’m dealing with it," she told BuzzFeed News in October. "I’m a big girl — I can take care of myself."

4. Zahra Nouri, who went viral for casually holding her baby while managing the Iranian national women's rugby team.

Iranian mother holding her newborn in her arms coaches her rugby team Tehran's Stars

Nouri also works with Setaregan ("Star") RFC, a team based in Tehran.

5. Hailey Dawson, a 7-year-old girl with a 3D-printed hand who is on her way to meeting her goal of throwing out the first pitch at every Major League Baseball park.

Instagram: @haileys_hand

Hailey got offers from tons of major sports teams after the story of her quest went viral in September.

So far she has thrown out the first pitch at three MLB parks, including Game 4 of the 2017 World Series.

6. Rebeca Sinohara, an engineering student who put her own spin on those "getting ready" bridal photos.

Facebook: abrantesrebeca

Sinohara told BuzzFeed News in May that she has mostly male friends, as she is one of the only female engineering students in her classes.

Rather than skip the fun pics, she decided to do it her own way.

"When the bride doesn't have any girlfriends, it's time to call her bros. This is what happens to a girl in Computer Engineering," she wrote on Facebook.

7. Yuka Ogata, a Japanese politician who sparked a big debate in her country by bringing her son to work.

The Kumamoto Muni assembly member was told to leave the floor and return without her 7-month-old son because of a rule prohibiting non-staff members from going to the meetings.

Ogata has pushed to bring her child before, and was told to "hire a babysitter." The moment garnered her a ton of support in her country and online.

"[I] wanted the Kumamoto Municipal Assembly to be a place where women who are raising children can do a great job," she told press in Japan.

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8. Ilhan Omar, who this year officially became the first Somali-American state lawmaker in US history.

Omar fled Somalia with her family, moving to the US when she was 12.

Besides her job as Minnesota's House representative for District 60B, Omar is also the director of policy initiatives at Women Organizing Women and a mother of three.

9. Savannah Kestor, a 13-year-old girl who announced she is gay to the congregation at her Mormon church.

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“No part of me is a mistake,” Savannah told her church, according to the New York Times. “I do not choose to be this way, and it is not a fad.”

Savannah's microphone was cut off before she was able to continue her speech.

“I think they did that because they didn’t want my message,” Savannah told the newspaper. “I don’t want to be mean to them if this isn’t true, but I felt like they were scared of me and what I was saying.”

10. Feminista Jones, who used her social media platform to inspire millions of women to agree with the compliments they are given by men.

Feminista Jones

Jones' Twitter thread in May encouraged many other women to own what makes them special.

"It's not a new idea, but in my own experience when [a man] complimented me and I say, 'I agree,' they get upset," Jones told BuzzFeed News. "It’s the idea that they bestow the compliment on you, and you’re not supposed to be aware of it."

11. This woke little girl, who made her own sign for the Women's March.

Jenny Sowry

Jenny Sowry's photo of her 22-month-old daughter went viral after she posted it on Facebook, saying "#inherownwords #shespeaksforherself."

She told BuzzFeed News her daughter made the sign all on her own while she, her husband, and their son made placards for the march.

"She had been watching us make our signs and she had grabbed the markers and she had gone to town on it," Sowry said. "She obviously had something to say and she did it herself."

12. Larissa Waters, an Australian lawmaker who made headlines by breastfeeding her child in the Australian Senate.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Waters told BuzzFeed News she had been feeding her 11-week-old daughter Alia when she had to go to the chamber unexpectedly.

"She was still on the boob, so I had to take her off, run down there, [and] put her back on when I was back in the chamber," she explained.

She said the reaction to the moment left her with "mixed feelings."

"The fact that it is news that a young woman ... can breastfeed in parliament, goes to show how far we have to go in making our parliament look like our community," she said. "It's been 116 years in the coming, and it's tragic that it's taken that long."

13. Ash Soto, who turned her body into artwork after being bullied for years for having a skin condition.

Instagram: @radiantbambi

Soto, who has the skin condition vitiligo, uses her Instagram account as a platform for spreading a message of self-love and acceptance.

"It took me a long time to share my true self. I decided to post when I felt like I was strong enough and mentally able to handle the reaction, whichever way I was meant to receive it," she told A Plus.

CORRECTION

Hailey's last name is Dawson, a fact misstated in a previous version of this story.

Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Stephanie McNeal at stephanie.mcneal@buzzfeed.com.

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