20 Women Under 20 Who Are Promoting Change and Getting Shit Done
Who Run the world? Girls.
Around the world, young women are proving that when it comes to igniting change, age is just a number. They’re tackling pressing issues like climate change, gun control, education, and more. Feeling inspired? Us too. In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, and Women’s Month as a whole, we’ve rounded up 20 of the amazing young female activists who continue to inspire us every day:
1. Greta Thunberg
17 years old, Climate Activist
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has made a name for herself as one of the leaders of the climate movement. She made waves last year when she sailed across the Atlantic on a zero-emissions boat to give a powerful speech to world leaders at the United Nations. A few months later, in September 2019, she inspired 4 million people to join the largest global climate strike in history.
2. Nupol Kiazolu
19 years old, Racial Justice Activist
Nupol Kiazolu is on a mission to change the way the country thinks about racism. She held her first protest at only 13 years old. Today, she’s the president of Black Lives Matter Greater New York and Founder and CEO of the Vote 2000 campaign urging young people of color to register to vote.
3. Yolanda Renee King
11 years old, Gun Safety Activist
For Yolanda Renee King, activism runs in the family. As the eldest granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., Yolanda is making sure her voice is heard when it comes to gun violence. In 2018, she gave a powerful speech at March For Our Lives in Washington DC.
4. Mari Copeny
12 years old, Clean Water Activist
Also known as “Little Miss Flint,” Mari Copeny made headlines in 2016 when she wrote a letter to President Barack Obama about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Today, she is working to make sure that every community has access to drinkable water through various fundraising campaigns and her hashtag #WednesdaysForWater.
5. Sophie Cruz
9 years old, Immigration Activist
At the age of five, Sophie Cruz gave Pope Francis a handwritten letter begging for help for her undocumented Mexican parents. Since then, she has continued to speak out (in both Spanish and English) to advocate for undocumented families and immigrants. She has addressed the Supreme Court, met with Barack Obama, and spoken at the Women’s March in Washington DC.
6. Jazz Jennings
19 years old, LGBTQ Rights Activist
Appearing on ABC News in a dress at only six years old, Jazz Jennings was one of the youngest people to publicly identify as transgender. 13 years later, she continues to advocate for LGBTQ youth and inspire young people around the world to be their true selves. She shares her story as a transgender teen on her TLC series, I am Jazz, which is currently in its sixth season.
7. & 8. Melati and Isabel Wijsen
18 and 16 years old, Climate Activists
Teen sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen initially founded Bye Bye Plastic Bags to help get plastic bags banned on their island of Bali. Now that they’ve accomplished this goal, they’ve turned Bye Bye Plastic Bags into a global movement that arms other young activists with the tools they need to get plastic bags banned wherever they live.
9. Marley Dias
15 years old, Diverse Representation Activist
When she was in sixth grade, Marley Dias grew frustrated with the lack of representation in the books she was seeing at school. So, she started the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign with the goal to collect and donate 1,000 books that feature black girls as the main characters. Since the start of her campaign, she has collected more than 12,000 books and has even published a book of her own.
10. Hailey Hardcastle
19 years old, Mental Health Activist
Hailey Hardcastle is changing the conversation around mental health. Thanks to her efforts, Oregon became one of the first states to legally mandate excused mental health days for students. Today, she’s working to expand the mental health days initiative nationwide and also implement other mental health initiatives, such as mental health checks in schools.
11. Licypriya Kangujam
8 years old, Climate Activist
India native Licypriya Kangujam has already travelled to more than 20 countries to speak out about climate change. Within India, she is fighting for new laws to curb India’s high pollution levels and for climate change to be taught in schools. She founded her own organization, The Child Movement, to raise awareness about the climate crisis and call on leaders to take action to protect the planet.
12. Arielle Geismar
18 years old, Gun Control Activist
Arielle Geismar is the New York state president of Team Enough, a youth-led initiative that educates and mobilizes young people to end gun violence. Last year, Arielle worked with Governor Andrew Cuomo to pass an important gun safety law that temporarily restricts firearm access for New Yorkers who are at risk to themselves or others.
13. Helena Gualinga
18 years old, Indigenous Land Rights & Climate Activist
Growing up in the Sarayaku indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Helena Gualinga has always had a very close relationship with nature. For as long as she can remember, she has used her voice to help protect indigenous communities like hers from climate change. Earlier this year, she launched the Polluters Out campaign to stop the environmental damage caused by extractive industries.
14. Sahithi Pingali
18 years old, Clean Water Activist
While researching the growing water crisis in her hometown of Bangalore, India, Sahithi Pingali realized that there was a serious lack of available data. So, she created WaterInsights, an at-home water testing kit and smartphone app that can be used to crowdsource water quality data and ensure everyone has access to clean water.
15. Alexandria Villaseñor
14 years old, Climate Activist
Alexandria Villaseñor first became a climate activist after witnessing the effects of the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California. Today, she is an organizer for FridaysforFuture, co-founder of the US Youth Climate Strike, and founder of Earth Uprising, a youth-led climate organization. Her number one goal is to see meaningful climate action taken by world leaders.
16. Payal Jangid
17 years old, Child Marriage Activist
Payal Jangid is raising her voice to end the practice of child marriage in India after escaping it herself. Through campaigns and protests, she works to educate both children and elders on the dangers of child marriage and ensure that children live in a world free of exploitation.
17. Isra Hirsi
17 years old, Climate Activist
Isra Hirsi may be the daughter of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, but as one of the co-founders of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, Isra has established herself as a climate change activist in her own right. So far, her organization has organized multiple strikes and a petition calling for a climate debate. Isra aims to raise the profile of diverse youth voices in the fight for climate justice.
18. Mo’ne Davis
18 years old, Female Empowerment Activist
As the first girl to ever pitch a shut-out in the Little League World Series, Mo’ne Davis combats gender stereotypes and serves as a role model to so many young girls in sports. At the age of 13, she launched a sneaker line to support Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl, an initiative that combats child poverty and promotes gender equality around the world.
19. Autumn Peltier
15 years old, Clean Water Activist
Indigenous teen Autumn Peltier fights for clean drinking water for indigenous communities in Canada and beyond. At only 14 years old, she was named Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek nation, a political advocacy group representing 40 First Nations in Ontario, Canada. Autumn made waves when she addressed world leaders at the United Nations urging them to “warrior up and take a stand for our planet.”
20. Jamie Margolin
18 years old, Climate Activist
Jamie Margolin has been concerned about the climate crisis for as long as she can remember. Frustrated by the inaction of elected officials, she founded Zero Hour, a youth climate movement that organizes marches, summits, and demonstrations to educate people on the effects of climate change. In September 2019, Jamie testified before Congress on the urgent need for climate action.