Women Wednesday #66

We love how women are changing the world and making an impact to their home countries that we're talking all things awesome and new every Wednesday!
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This beauty just became the first person with Downs Syndrome to Compete in A Miss USA State Pageant. Mikayla Holmgren received two awards at the pageant and says she wants to "blaze the trail" and show a different side to Down syndrome.  "I went from a special needs pageant to the biggest pageant in the world. It's kind of crazy." In addition to winning the Spirit of Miss USA Award and the Director's Award, Holmgren also made history as the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA pageant nationwide, according to the Miss Universe Organization. "It is a lot of work," she said, laughing. "My mom and I were always shopping and then the mock interviews and getting ready and practicing everything and the makeup and hair." Holmgren, who has been dancing since she was 6, says she adores performing in front of crowds and draws strength and joy from the stage. She is currently studying at Bethel University's Inclusive Learning and Development program and plans to graduate in 2018. She lives on campus, interns at the university’s child care centre, and is also an ambassador for Best Buddies, a non-profit that fosters relationships and life skills for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Big things are ahead for Mikayla!

She is unequivocally breaking barriers. Born in the United Arab Emirates, and 22 years old, Zahra Lari is the first woman competing internationally wearing a headscarf and the first woman to do so from a Persian Gulf state. Lari’s passion and admiration for figure skating started when she watched a Disney movie, ‘Ice Princess’, at the age of 12. Determined to make her dream into a reality, she persisted and did whatever she had to do. Even if it meant to wake up at 04:30 in the morning and practice before going to school. Zahra Lari acknowledges that her passion stems from her belief that figure skating is both an art and a sport. She believes that it necessitates the strength of a gymnast and the flexibility and gracefulness of a ballerina. Her continuous passion is what keeps her focused on her goals whilst blocking out any negativities and obstacles that come her way. A few of her goals include representing the UAE at the Winter Olympics, at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and the World Championships. Although she recently did not qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics, because of her perseverance and zeal, Lari will eventually fulfill her goals. We’ll see much more of Zahra Lari in the future. She is an incredibly empowering woman who has shown us that Muslim women are capable of accomplishing anything.

Big sports associations, like the English FA council, mostly contain men. Men who are more interested in the commercial part than the true philosophy behind the association. At least now, we have an exception. Rimla Akhtar is the first Muslim Woman to sit on the Football Association Council. And she bosses it! She is also chair of the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation. With this organization, she tries to provide opportunities and awareness for women in sport, mostly women from ethnic minority communities. She tries to let these women take part in sporting activities without dishonouring religious and cultural sensitivities. In 2014, Rimla Akhtar had set her goal to tackle the lack of diversity in the football world. Almost every club is run by Caucasian males and the managers are often Caucasian as well. Hence, the boards of the FA council doesn’t contain a lot of females and/or males with an ethnic background. In 2015, Akhtar’s exceptional work championing equality and representation in sport resulted in a new award. Akthar is a true Scouser and a big fan of the red Merseyside club Liverpool FC. To top her achievements, she is a funny person as well. Her twitter account is a mix of funny reflections and informative statements. Rimla Akhtar is a woman we should all treasure!

Have a positive week,

Love Neon Moon x   

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