Age is just a number and greatness comes in all shapes and sizes. The thought holds especially true when you think about the hundreds of girls who have been silently working towards making the world a better place. This International Day of the Girl Child, let us celebrate these young revolutionaries.
Some of the biggest events in human history have been shaped and prodded by the hands of young children. Environmental protests, a call for education for the girl children, cancer research support, working to end segregation—girls have been in the center of many important points in history. However, if the past has taught us anything, it is that women rarely get the applause and appreciation they deserve. This becomes twice as true for young girls who are yet to turn 18!
It is time we celebrate some of the extraordinary girls who have shaped our world! Here are some young women who should be known for their grit and determination.
A name that is known to most, Anne Frank is a lone voice crying through history! In fact, her diary, published in more than 70 languages, has circulated her human tale of suffering and joy globally. Many have written about the Jewish experience of the holocaust, but Anne Frank’s posthumous publication holds in itself a power that has changed lives.
Malala became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate at 17 for her humanitarian efforts. She has toiled for ages to fight for the rights of young girls. An advocate for women pursuing education, Malala has protested, fought, and even been shot in the course of her activism career. She has become a household name now!
A speaker for the UN Climate Summit, an environmental activist, and a schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg has radically changed the way we see climate change and global warming. Her passionate protest for stronger action against climate change has resonated through a number of school children. Her unapologetic stance on global warming has earned her the respect of many.
As a children’s rights advocate from West Bengal, Anoyara has been fighting against child trafficking since she was 12. A victim of child trafficking herself, Anoyara was rescued by an organization called Save the Children. She is a strong spokesperson against child trafficking and child marriage. Her ceaseless efforts have saved hundreds of girls in West Bengal and surrounding areas. In 2012, Anoyara emerged as one of the three nominees for the International Children’s Peace Prize.
Melati and Isabel Wijsen
At 10 and 12, the two girls were instrumental in cleaning up the beaches of Bali and reducing plastic usage worldwide. They started a homegrown initiative which called for the ban of plastic usage. Inspired by the plastic ban on Rwanda, the Wisjen sisters have successfully turned their native Bali into a plastic-free zone!
Known to be a Bharatnatyam prodigy, the young girl used her fame to change the lives of children who are not as fortunate as her. A winner of the prestigious Kalashree Award, and many other accolades, the young dancer donates most of her earnings to underprivileged children. She helps them by buying books, notebooks, bags, and other educational supplies. Additionally, she also teaches dance to young girls from poor families from the slums near her home.
Advocating for education for girls in Africa, Zuriel has made a name for herself throughout the globe. She has interviewed 30 heads of state, created seven documentaries, and continues to be a voice against climate change. Most importantly, the Nigerian-American filmmaker and education advocate is only 17 but continues to toil for the benefit of thousands.
Often only known as ‘Little Miss Flint,’ Mari captured the attention of the world by becoming a voice for the devastating and ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The natives don’t have access to clean drinking water. Moreover, they are battling significant health problems because of this water crisis. Mari Copeny is still working towards ending the debilitating water crisis at the age of 13.
Yuan Yuan Tan
Courage comes in many forms, and for dancer Yuan Yuan Tan, it came via blazing a trail to the San Francisco Ballet. At 17, she became the youngest principal dancer as well as the first Chinese dancer to earn that role in a major western dance company. She has been inspiring thousands of young girls by talking about her experience and motivating them to follow their dreams!
An entrepreneur at the age of 17, Avani Singh is an inspiration to those looking to create careers. She started an organization called Ummeed in Delhi which trained women from the slums to drive auto-rickshaws. Her actions not only taught a lot of women essential skills but also helped them earn for their families and become breadwinners. Ummeed is still giving a lot of underprivileged women access to social mobility and a shot at better lives.
There are hundreds of other little girls who are making history with their strength, zeal, passion, and compassion. We often tend to overlook or undersell the efforts that the youth are making. Sadly, many of the names on this list are relatively unknown, despite having made a mark globally.
Why do we not share these amazing and heart-rending stories? Even though we celebrate girl children on a scheduled day every year, we forget to appreciate them in our daily life! It is time we recognized the many girls who have been trying to make this world a better place.
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