5 Girls Who are Changing the World

International Day of the Girl 2021

Every year on October 11th, the world is called to recognise the unique challenges that girls face globally and their enormous potential to bring about change.

The theme for this year, ‘Digital Generation. Our Generation‘ centres around girls having access to digital platforms for learning, earning and connecting.

The gender gap for global internet users grew from 11 per cent in 2013 to 17 per cent in 2019. In the world’s least developed countries, it hovers around 43 per cent.

But the gender digital divide is about more than connectivity. Girls are also less likely than boys to use and own devices, and gain access to tech-related skills and jobs. Only by addressing these inequities and exclusion’s can we usher in a digital revolution for all, with all.

Here is a list of five of girls that inspire us and whose stories need to be told:

1. Malala Yousafazai

“If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?” These words by Malala Yousafzai speak volumes of the ripples of change she has been creating in today’s society.

Born in 1997 in Swat Valley, Pakistan, where a girl is generally seen as less valuable than a boy, Malala grew up during a time of extreme conflict with an unstable government and rising opposition forces. Malala championed that girls should have the same opportunities as boys for education. She also stood for school being a symbol of equality because it is the foundation for any child’s development.

From being shot by Taliban at the tender age of 15 to becoming the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient at 17, Malala’s life is an inspiration to millions of girls.

2. Greta Thunberg

At just 16 years old, Climate Activist Greta Thunberg became Time magazine’s youngest-ever Person of the Year and is quickly becoming the voice of a generation.

Thunberg’s rise to international prominence started at her climate strike in August 2018 on her own, where no major advocacy groups were then backing her.

In a speech before the United Nations Climate Action Summit, Thunberg lambasted world leaders for essentially destroying the future for young people.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she said. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about are your fairy tales of money and eternal economic growth.”

Despite her young age, Greta has struck a chord with millions of adults and young people alike.

3. Emma González

On Februrary 14 2018, the lives of the students and families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were forever altered. A former student fired at students and staff, killing 17 people and injuring 17 more in one of the deadliest school shootings ever.

Just days after the shooting, Emma González appeared at a rally for stricter gun control and called lawmakers out and was one of the loudest voices in the #NeverAgain movement.

Together, the teens united people across the nation behind the rallying cry “never again” and were a driving force behind the one of the biggest youth protests since the Vietnam War, according to the Associated Press.

“We certainly do not understand why it should be harder to make plans with friends on weekends than to buy an automatic or semi-automatic weapon.”

4. Ruby Bridges

At the tender age of six, Ruby Bridges advanced the cause of civil rights in November 1960 when she became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school.

She showed unforgettable loving forgiveness and courage when faced with screaming from mobs who jeered and taunted her every day as she walked into her elementary school. Federal marshals had to escort Ruby to school, but she never quit or turned back.

Today she is the founder of the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which seeks to end racism and prejudice and promote tolerance, respect, and appreciation for all differences. Her message comes at a time when equal access to a quality education is receding and remains an urgent need and the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Movement.

5. Melati and Isabel Wijsen

Melati and Isabel Wijsen launched activism group Bye Bye Plastic Bags when they were just 10 and 12 years old.

Over six years, their continued protesting and education efforts eventually resulted in the official ban of plastic bags, styrofoam and plastic straws on their home island of Bali, Indonesia. CurrentlyMelati and Isabel are excited about their new youth empowerment project, Youthtopia, founded by Melati.

The project focuses on empowering youth via meaningful and short peer-to-peer programs and by providing them with the tools needed to be young changemakers.

“You’re never too young to make a difference, and it’s not too late to take action.”