You don’t have to be a successful, 30-plus business woman with loads of money to change the world. The young ladies we have featured here don’t fit that description. They are young, brave, innovative women who have taken up a noble cause that is changing their local communities and impacting the world around them.
We take our hats off to the girls with big dreams and applaud them for making huge strides in the areas of gender equality, education, science and more.
Here are just some young women who are changing the world:
When Julia looked through teen magazines, she didn’t like what she was seeing. Pictures of beautiful, young women – photoshopped to perfection. At 14 years old, Julia started a petition on Change.org called “Seventeen Magazine: Give Girls Images of Real Girls.” Her goal was to get Seventeen Magazine to stop altering their photos, requesting that they have one unaltered photo spread per issue. Julia and a team of teen girls took the petition with 84, 000 signatures and presented it to the executive editor at Seventeen Magazine in New York. They then protested outside the headquarters with signs that said, “teen girls against Photoshop.” And guess what? They listened. Seventeen magazine issued a statement that they wouldn’t alter the bodies or faces of the girls featured in their editorials, a huge victory for Julia and her supporters. Today she continues to write for Spark, feminist site and movement that hopes to stop the sexualization of girls in the media.
Back in 2011 Heather was outraged when she heard about a Toronto Police Officer who told a group of York University students that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Being a survivor of sexual assault herself, she knew something had to be done. So Heather along with Sonya Barnett started the SlutWalk movement, a march that seeks to educate and stop victim blaming when it comes to sexual assault. Since starting back in 2011, Slutwalk marches have taken place in over 200 countries around the world.
This Canadian teen has some serious brains. Ann was able to create what she calls the “hollow flashlight,” which uses the warmth from your hands to produce energy and light up. The flashlight can shine a LED light for as long as 20 minutes. Ann got inspired to create the invention when she heard a friend in the Philippines was struggling to do her school work because they didn’t have any electricity. Ann spent months coming up with a prototype but once she did, she soon found herself at Google's 2013 Science Fair, and soon after hosting multiple TEDx talks. Ann hopes that one day her flashlight will become available to people who need it most, like her friend in the Phillippines.
You couldn’t possibly think we’d have a list like this without Malala. The bravery and positivity she’s displayed in the last couple years is breathtaking. She first came onto the scene for being an outspoken advocate for education for the girls of Swat Valley, Pakistan. Her ideas spread catching the attention of media outlets from around the world who were intrigued by the young girl with a big message. Given any stage, Malala would share her ideas and hopes for girls to one day have equal opportunity to go to school. But then on October 2012, Malala was shot three times by a gunman associated with the Taliban. The incident almost claimed her life, but she came out fighting. Today Malala is a global ambassador for girls' education and author to her book I Am Malala. Under her name, the UN have also started a petition that hopes to have all children from all over the world, girls and boys, in school by 2015.
TIME calls this twenty something Malala’s “right- hand woman” and that’s exactly what she is. Shiza is the CEO and co-founder of the Malala Fund and also plays a vital role in the campaign for education for girls. It all started when Shiza was a student at Stanford University and watched a video of a young Malala talking about a girl’s right to education. Shiza was so inspired that she contacted Malala’s father where they organized a camp for Malala and her closest friends to give them the tools they needed to be better leaders in their community. Shiza has been by Malala’s side ever since, from recovery to post recovery, helping set up the Malala Fund and demand education for girls all over the world. This dynamic duo is a force to be reckoned with.