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7 female activists <23 who are changing the world
Whether it’s leading a national conversation about gun control or fighting for girls’ education and gender equality around the world, an increasing number of young women are stepping forward as change agents.
To keep the momentum going, this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is centered around #PressforProgress and urges women of all generations to to use their voices to make a difference.
Below are just a few of the young female leaders leading national and international conversations about some of the world’s most critical issues:
1. Emma Gonzalez
Just days after a gunman opened fire at her school and killed 17 of her peers, Florida high school senior Emma Gonzalez used her voice to call national attention to gun law reform.”If I’m able to communicate one thing to adults, it would be this: It should not be easier to purchase a gun than it is to obtain a driver’s license, and military-grade weapons should not be accessible in civilian settings,” she wrote. “You don’t drive a NASCAR on the street, no matter how fun it might be, just like you don’t need an AR-15 to protect yourself when walking home at night. No one does.”
2. Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny
In 2006, 8-year-old Copeny wrote a letter to President Barack Obama in which she referred to herself as “Little Miss Flint.” In the letter she asked if she could meet with him or the First Lady during an upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. She was heading to the nation’s capital to hear Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder testify before Congress about the water crisis in her hometown of Flint, Michigan.Since that meeting, Copeny has continued her fight for clean water in Flint and has also become a youth ambassador for the Women’s March.
3. Malala Yousafzai
In 2012, Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban after publicly speaking out about her fight to protect girls’ education. After surviving the attack she went on to share her story around the world and launched the Malala Fund in 2013 with her father to raise awareness.
“I started speaking out when I was 11 years old and I had no idea if my voice can have an impact or not. But soon I realized that people were listening to me and my voice was reaching to people around the world. So change is possible and do not limit yourself, do not stop yourself, just because you are young.”
Shahidi is an 18-year-old actress and activist who uses her platform to advocate for important issues like diversity in Hollywood, girls’ education and voter turnout. Most recently, she sat down with Oprah Winfrey to discuss how she’s turning her activism into action by launching a new initiative called Eighteen x ’18, which will encourage more young people to vote in the upcoming elections.
5. Shamma bint Suhail Faris Mazrui
In 2016, at just 22 years old, Mazrui was appointed Minister of State for Youth Affairs in the United Arab Emirates. According to the Los Angeles Times, she is believed to be the youngest government minister in the world and her role is to create pathways for young people to have more engagement with government and within society.
6. Sophie Cruz
In 2015, 5-year-old Cruz broke through security to give Pope Francis a letter in which she asked that her parents, who are undocumented immigrants, not be deported from the United States. In the letter, she asked that Pope Francis speak with the President and Congress about the issue and said that she would soon be sending a letter to President Obama. Since then, Cruz has continued to advocate for immigration rights. Last year she spoke at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and she called on the crowd to work together to bring about change.
“Let us fight with love, faith and courage so that our families will not be destroyed,” she said.
7. Marley Dias
At 13 years old, Dias is the founder of #1000blackgirlbooks, a campaign that she started in 2015 with the goal to collect and donate 1,000 books to her peers that featured black girls as the main characters.
To date, she has collected more than 10,000 books and spoke alongside Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey at the United State of Women Summit in 2016.
“I’m working to create a space where it feels easy to include and imagine black girls and make black girls like me the main characters of our lives.”
Her work has also earned her a spot as the youngest person on Forbes 2018 “30 Under 30” list.
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This story was written by Courtney Connley, Careers Reporter.
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