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Badass women: 9 March 2017

Malaysian runner Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli, activist Li Maizi, 5-year-old Wang Anna, actress Janelle Monáe and the Cheer Mommy squad are gamechangers

By Lydia Chan | Published: 9 Mar 2017

Video: New Straits Times

Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli
Meet Zaidatul, the fastest woman in Malaysia. This morning, at the ASA Speed Series 2 meet in South Africa, the 23-year-old set the new national women's 100m record time of 11.45 seconds (watch the video and be blown away by her speed!). Previously, the women's record was 11.50 seconds, set by former champion sprinter G. Shanti 24 years ago. According to New Straits Times, Zaidatul had previously broken the record on Saturday when she clocked a time of 11.36 seconds but was denied the record due to a strong tailwind. However, this time, she's definitely etched her name in the history books – national sprint coach Zainal Abas confirmed the new 11.45-second record. Zaidatul also ran at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics on a wildcard entry and will be the one to watch at the upcoming Kuala Lumpur Sea Games. Congratulations, Zaidatul!

Li Maizi
Maizi was part of a female activists group handing out stickers on the Beijing subway, in an effort to raise sexual harassment awareness – a noble action that got her and four other activists arrested. Feminists in China took to the streets to protest this detention and their arrest also sparked an international campaign, 'Free the Five'. After being held in a detention center for 37 days, upon her release, Maizi chose to continue fighting for women's rights. In conjunction with International Women's Day, she penned an article on the state of feminism in China – "What I do is for the rights of women all over the world," she wrote.

The Cheer Mommy women
The ladies in the Cheer Mommy squad are here to show you that fun isn't just for the young. With an average age of 74, these 30 elderly women are part of a cheerleading squad based in Samcheok, South Korea. Cheer Mommy started out as a leisure programme, but now the women travel all over South Korea to compete against their junior counterparts. The fast-paced routines (which are performed to K-pop music!) might leave them out of breath but cheering seems to be their fountain of youth. "Because I come here, I don't need to take any medicine," said 82-year-old Oh Geum-nyu, the oldest member on the team. "Although I'm ageing, on the outside, this keeps me young at heart."

 

In a photo taken on March 3, 2017, members of 'Cheer Mommy', a 30-member cheerleading squad with an average age of 75, practice their routines at a rehearsal room in Samcheok, on South Korea's northeast coast. Waving white pom poms in the air, dozens of grey-haired cheerleaders in matching red and white uniforms hop and skip to K-pop music that fills the practice room. Halfway into their two-hour practice session, most of the elderly dancers are panting and sweating, but do not let their bad knees or back pain stop them from what they say is keeping them healthy and youthful. Photo: AFP #mommy #cheerleaders #cheermommy #cheerleading #mommysquad #squad #cheerleadingsquad #mom #youngatheart #womenpower #grey #silver #kpop #practice #elderly #dancers #samcheok #skorea #southkorea #southkorea🇰🇷

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Wang Anna
While most 5-year-olds play with toys and are doted on by family members, Anna from Zunyi city in southwest China is already responsible for cooking, cleaning and taking care of her grandmother and great-grandmother at home. According to the Daily Mail UK, when she was three-months old, her father was sentenced to jail, leaving her mother to care for the family. Soon after, Anna's mother remarried and abandoned her, leaving the elderly women in Anna's care. Every day, the little girl wakes up early to cook for her grandmas – she has to stand on a stool and stretch her arms just to reach the stove. She also does all the housework and thanks to kind neighbours, she gets to pick fresh vegetables from their farms. This is one five-year-old that puts even us adults to shame.

Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe is an accomplished singer and music producer, and also starred in Oscar-acclaimed films Hidden Figures and Moonlight. She uses her fame as a platform to speak out against racism and sexism. Recently, she took to Twitter to de-stigmatise women's periods. She started with a simple tweet – "Menstrual Period Blood. #WomensHistoryMonth" before going on to say, "It's sad that there are prob folks more grossed out by and/or ashamed of menstrual period blood than they are the current administration" and ending it with a sassy tweet.

Unsurprisingly, people hit back, saying things like "Menstrual blood is gross" but Janelle was quick to school them.


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