1. Amika George, 17: #FreePeriods
After learning that young people in the U.K. are forced to miss school because they don’t have necessary menstrual products and in some cases, use tissues or strips of t-shirts to replace menstrual products; at 17 years old, Amika George founded #FreePeriods.
Her goal was to ensure that everyone who needed menstrual products, have them. She aimed to get just 10 signatures on a petition asking Prime Minister Theresa May to give all girls who are eligible for free lunch in the U.K. free menstrual products as well. Little did she know that in the span of just a few weeks the petition would have about 2,000 signatures and a little more than a year later the signature count would be approaching 200,000.
Amika, 19, was nominated for Teen Vogue’s 21 under 21, by @emmawatson for her extraordinary work toward menstrual equality. As her successes accumulate, Amika says she’s living proof of just how much young people are capable of.
In addition to her petition, the North Londoner also organized a protest in December 2017 that brought more than 2,000 people into the streets to fight for period equality. Much of the support for her campaign has come from social media Amika said, which is why she thinks online platforms are crucial for young people’s success.✨ “I’d like to think that the idea of the embarrassment and shame [about periods will be gone]. I think we are moving forward now,” Amika tells @teenvogue“People are starting to question this idea that menstruation is disgusting.”
On March 9th, 2019 Free Periods did it! 271,000 signed the petition and 2,000 protested. The government pledged to end period poverty by providing FREE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS in ALL secondary schools in England!
2. Amanda LaCount, 16: #Breakingthestereotype
16-year-old Amanda LaCount’s began the #BreakingTheStereotype movement, encouraging people to rethink what a dancer can look like.
On an interview with @amypoehlersmartgirls Amanda states, “My hashtag #BreakingTheStereotype refers mainly to dance, and that anyone can be a dancer if they are passionate about it and work hard. It doesn’t matter if you are tall or short, what colour you are, what sexual orientation you are, male or female, age, height, thick or thin body type, hair color, how much money you have, if you are blind or deaf, paralyzed, or even if you can walk or not. Anyone can dance if they want to.” When asked what her advice was too young girls she says, “Find what you are passionate about and pursue it with all your heart. Don’t worry about what other people may think. Do it for you and because you love it — no matter what it is. People can tell when you are sharing from your heart.” @amandalacount is truly an inspiration! Check out her Instagram page #breakingthestereotype
3. Emma Gonzales, 19: #NeverAgain
Emma González, 19 years old, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, has quickly become one of the most visible leaders of the push for gun control in America. She has debated an N.R.A. spokesman on live television and she and her classmates from Marjory Stoneman Douglas forged a national movement, #NeverAgain, which gathered hundreds of thousands of protesters across the country in an event billed as the March for Our Lives. #marchforourlives
During a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, days after a gunman entered her school, Emma stated, “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about the mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting.
We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.” @emmawise18 continues to interrogate and change gun control in America, truly inspirational.
4. Priyanka Paul, 20: @artwhoring
Priyanka Paul is a 20-year-old Indian woman who advocates for social justice issues and inclusivity. She is a brown, queer, female poet and artist who illustrates women of colour, brown women in particular, and is breaking boundaries with her art. She wants to illustrate women in strong, alternative and empowering forms. She is a feminist in the most dangerous country for women in the world and calls out misogyny and advocates for sex education in India. “What else am I, if not a mother, daughter, sister? Nothing. Women being sexual entities at par with men is something unthought-of. The whole ‘Men will be men’ and ‘Women are sluts, but men are studs’ is a rampant idea. The new age Indian woman, I believe is moving ahead”. Priyanka has amazing and refreshing energy and you should check out her art and support her! She has a wicked sense of humor as well! Check out her Instagram page @artwhoring
5. Marsai Martin, 14: Youngest Executive Producer
You may know her as Diane from Black-ish, 14-year-old Marsai Martin is making history by becoming the youngest executive producer in the up and coming film, Little. In Little, Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall) is transformed by a curse to turn her into her 13-year-old self (Martin). Not only is she an actress and singer, but she is now Hollywood’s youngest executive producer. At just 14 years old, she has already won two NAACP Image Awards and a Young Artist award.
6. Isabel, 15 and Melati, 17 Wijsen: ByeByePlasticBags
Meet Isabel and Melati Wijsen, two teenage sisters from Bali, Indonesia advocating to ban plastic bags in Indonesia. At ten and twelve years old, they started their initiative to ban plastic bags locally and globally. Indonesia is the second largest plastic polluter in the world after China, and Isabel and Melati were always aware of the growing plastic population around them. Age didn’t hinder them from advocacy and the sisters have inspired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, and Lady Diana. They then founded their non-profit organization Bye Bye Plastic Bags, which is an initiative to get young people in Bali to ban plastic bags. They also gained permission to start collecting signatures behind customs and immigration at Bali’s airport and, eventually, got over 100,000. However, that was not enough for Bali’s governor Mangku Pastika and for over 18 months he didn’t meet the sister’s request for hearing. The sisters then decided to hold a hunger strike which was effective, and after twenty-four hours they were escorted and met with the governor, who then signed a memorandum of trying to aid the Bali population to say no to plastic bags. The sisters have delivered TED talk and made appearances at the United Nations.
“We didn’t want to wait until we were older to stand up for what we believe in.”
7. Marley Dias, 11: #1000blackgirlbooks
Meet Marley Dias, who noticed her books at home didn’t match the ones at school. At 11 years old, Marley launched #1000blackgirlbooks campaign. Her goal was to collect 1000 books that feature black girls as the main character. Today, she has collected over 9,000 books and released her own book, “Marley Dias Gets It Done – And so can you!” In an interview for Forbes, Marley states, “I’m working to create a space where it feels easy to include an image black girls and make black girls, like me, the main character of our lives… innovation comes from one: acknowledge yourself, two: studying and understanding the problem, and three: finding a solution”
8. Hannah Alper, 9: callmehannah.ca
At nine-years-old Hannah Alper, created her blog CallMeHannah.ca. She’s from Richmond Hill and is an eco-blogger and motivational speaker and advocates for anti-bullying and social justice. She is also a Huffington Post writer and even has her own TED talk called “How to find your spark”. In 2017 she also published her first book “Momentus”. Alper represents the power and potential of the youth, and how it’s never too early to bring action and change. She is able to balance discussions about bullying, while also being a young girl. Check out her blog to learn more about Hannah and let us know what you think, we especially love how refers to fundraising as kindraising. “I want a Canada where there’s compassion. The only way we can do that is through small actions that create a culture of kindness and love”.
9. Malavath Purna, 13: “Poorna, Courage has no limit”
Malavath Purna is an Indian mountaineer and is the youngest Indian and the youngest in the world to have reached the highest peak of Mount Everest. On 25 May 2014, at age 13 Poorna was successful with her climb. She has had a movie made about her life story in 2017 titled “Poorna: Courage has No Limit” which was directed by Rahul Bose. Purna represents the endurance and determination of young girls all around the world, and is an example that young girls can do anything!!
10. Greta Thunberg, 16: UN Climate Change Conference
Greta Thunberg is a Swedish political activist, who wants to stop global warming and climate change. At just 16 years old, she held the first school strike against climate change in front of Sweden’s parliament building in 2018. Thunberg decided in order to bring effective change, she decided to be absent at school and protested and pushed for the Swedish government to reduce its carbon emissions. She has had her own Ted Talk, in which she discusses the impact and dangers of climate change. She also addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Thunberg is an inspiring young woman and has inspired over 20,000 students since there have been school strikes in approximately 270 countries. Thunberg understands the dangers of putting our planet at risk and is taking action by educating others worldwide. She has already done amazing work and we cannot wait to see what she accomplishes in the future!
11. Yara Shahidi, 19: Eighteen x ’18
You may recognize 19 years old, Yara Shahidi from ABC’s Black-ish and its spinoff series Grown-ish, but not only is she breaking barriers in Hollywood, but she is also making time to advocate for different social issues. Born from an Iranian, African-American and Choctaw household, Shahidi has been vocal about the lack of representation in Hollywood. She also advocates for awareness and education about voting. She is the founder of Eighteen x ‘18, which is an initiative to encourage young people to vote. She held her first summit in September 2018. The summit was an event for artists, activists and young leaders to collaborate and have a platform to share their concerns and issues. She also worked with Michelle Obama’s initiative “Let Girls Learn”, which is an initiative to enroll girls around the world into schools. She has also partnered up with The Young Women’s Leadership School to form an initiative called “Yara’s Club” which bring young girls together to different social issues and how to take action.
“There’s a lack of humanity that goes behind policy change—policies that make being a woman a preexisting condition—and it’s because they aren’t thinking about who that affects, they’re thinking theoretically and tax break and money. And money isn’t human, we are human. The goal of my activism is to bring humanity back into humanity.”
12. Chloe Kim, 18: Youngest Gold Medalist
Chloe Kim, 18 years old, is a South Korean-American snowboarder from California. She started snowboarding at age four and started competing at six. Kim then joined the U.S. Snowboarding Team in 2013. She became the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. She went home with a gold medal at 17 years old. You can catch Kim featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and in Nike’s “Dream Crazier” ad. Mattel has also created a Shero Barbie for her. “Just because I’m young doesn’t mean I didn’t work hard to get to where I am.”
“I feel like dreams are always a little tricky, you know? But if you just push through the struggles and the hard times, it’ll be so worth it in the end because you will be able to get to your dreams.”
13. Sophie Cruz, 6: Youngest Activist to speak about Immigration in America
Meet Sophie Cruz, a 6-year-old American citizen, daughter of undocumented Mexican immigrants, who made international headlines when she gave Pope Francis a drawing and handwritten letter on behalf of all immigrants. Since then, she has become one of the youngest voices in the immigration reform movement and has met President Obama and spoke at the Women’s March and the Supreme Court.
14. Payal Jangrid: 19, Protests Child Marriage and Social Inequalities
Meet 19 years old, Payal Jangrid, from Virat Nagar. She is a leader of the child parliament in her village. Payal, along with 12 other activists aged between 10-14 years old, is very vocal about child rights and encourages parents in her village to send their children to school. Payal, who protested child marriage and social inequalities, became a jury member of the International Children’s Peace Prize at age 13. The World’s Children’s Prize International Child Jury is made up of 15 children who are experts in children’s rights through their own experiences of living in vulnerable situations. On the Jury, Payal Jangid, from India, represented children who fight for children’s rights, especially for girls’ right to education and against child labour and child marriage.
15. Meltem Avcil, 13: Petition to close Yarl’s Wood
At 13, Meltem was locked up for three months in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire with her mother while their application to remain in the UK was being filed. On her release, she joined the campaign to abolish the center’s detention of children, which was won in 2010. Now Meltem aims to save vulnerable women from suffering the same experience as her mother and is spearheading a petition to Theresa May asking for the closure of Yarl’s Wood, and an end to the detention of women seeking asylum.
16. Tania Speaks, 17: Brow Boost
When Tania Speaks was in elementary and middle school, she was bullied for having bushy, unruly eyebrows. Kids verbally and physically assaulted her on a regular basis. They would call her names, tell her that she had a unibrow, push her off the swings, and shove her against walls and lockers.
She currently runs Brow Boost, which she started when she was 17, inspiring others to build their confidence and self-identity. She says, “It’s an incredible feeling to run Brow Boost. I get to see my hard work pay off – financially, spiritually, and physically. The self-sufficiency and having control over my life is so empowering, especially as a teen. I am proud of the product I have created and look forward to helping more people feel confident through looking good and building their own businesses.”
“Be intentionally self-aware, flexible, and brave. Self-awareness means understanding who you are as an individual and what unique gifts you bring to the world. Being flexible will help you deal with disappointments and setbacks in business and in life. Being brave is essential to discovering your purpose. Fear is crippling and causes many people to doubt their abilities. But you can accomplish your goals.”
17. Jazz Jennings, 18: I Am Jazz
Jazz Jennings, 18 years old, has her own TV show discussing her transition story. I Am Jazz premiers January 1, 2019, and told ABC News that she saw her surgery as the end of her transition.
“I’ve gone through the whole medical process, and this is really the last thing that will validate my identity as a woman,” she said. “There is nothing else after this. I just get to be myself, be in the body that I’ve always wanted. And then I can live my life as just Jazz.”
18. Mo’ne Davis, 17: the first girl to earn a win and to pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history
In 2015, Mo’ne Davis showed the world that girls can play ball with the boys, and win. Davis, 13 at the time, became the first African-American girl to compete in the Little League World Series, the first girl to pitch a winning game in the LLWS, and the youngest athlete to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Aside from serving as a role model for young girls everywhere, Davis also has demonstrated an interest in serving others, as well. In 2015, she launched her own sneaker line, the proceeds of which went toward Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl initiative, a movement to empower girls around the world.
“I never thought at the age of 13 I’d be a role model, but having young girls look up to me is pretty cool,” Davis said. “If I can inspire them to reach their goals, that would be even cooler.”
19. Katie Eder, 13: Kids Tales
Katie Eder grew up loving to write but soon realized for many of her peers’ writing wasn’t quite as fun. So at age 13, Katie went to a local organization and asked to teach a creative writing workshop over the summer.
This was the beginning of Kids Tales, an organization which puts on creative writing workshops for kids. At the end of one of those first workshops, a young girl called Katie over to tell her just how much the experience meant to her.
“She said that writing and Kids Tales was the first time where it felt like she had a voice,” Katie recalled. “And that to me was the moment of, ‘Wow, this has to continue. This has to grow so we can spread this to more kids. And more kids can have the opportunity to write and to see writing as something positive.’”
20. Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, 8: PackYourBack
“My mom said chances are you will be too busy with more important things.”
When then-8-year-old Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny wrote those words in a letter in March 2016, she had no idea how much her life would soon change. The “you”? Barack Obama. The “more important things”? Leading the free world. The request? For the president or first lady to meet with Mari and other citizens of Flint, Michigan, who were preparing to travel to the capital to see their governor, Rick Snyder, testify before Congress; he was being questioned about why, among other things, Flint’s nearly 100,000 residents were drinking contaminated water that needed to be so chlorinated it corroded new engine parts at a local General Motors plant.