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10 Girls Who Are Changing The World With Their Words And Actions

by Karen Belz
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, Romper, and So Yummy. She's the mom of a sassy toddler and drinks an alarming amount of Sugar-Free Red Bull in order to keep up with her.

If you’ve been following the news, you’ve probably heard a lot about Greta Thunberg. The 16-year-old activist is making waves for her call for action against climate change.

The teen, who lives in Sweden, hasn’t been afraid to voice her concerns to politicians worldwide. It’s been inspiring to see her say the things that many adults are afraid to say, especially since she’s so young.

But Greta isn’t the only girl out there making a huge difference. It should go without saying that girls have a lot of power. The problem is, society has tried its hardest to deny women the chance to lead big groups and speak their voice. Eventually, we’ll have a female president — but the fact that we haven’t yet is telling, especially considering how many smart and capable women are in politics these days.

There are many young women out there who have inspired change in such creative ways. These are the born leaders — the girls who will go on to inspire the rest of us to take action. Most of them had an idea or an invested interest in something at a young age, and instead of letting their birth year deter them, they continued on with their quest for change.

Here are 10 young female leaders to keep your eye on. These are the girls who’ll change the world as they serve as excellent role models for our children today.

1. Greta Thunberg

Let’s start with Greta. The 16-year-old has been an active voice against climate change for some time, but this year she’s really making people talk. This month, she was the leader of the largest climate strike in history. Over 160 countries took part in helping address the issues regarding the climate. She also practices what she preaches, having traveled to the UN on a zero-emissions boat instead of using an airplane.

2. Jazz Jennings

Being a teenager is tough enough — but being a transgender teenager has its own struggles. Jazz Jennings, who was born male, knew she was transgender at the age of 2. In June of 2018, she underwent a gender confirmation surgery while also serving as a role model to those in the LGBTQ community. She also got her own television show on TLC and has used her spotlight to become an advocate.

“From the time I was six years old, I’ve been sharing my story. And you know at first I thought, ‘Okay, this is all going to come to an end one day and then I’ll be able to live my life.’ But more and more I realized that I was given this platform for a reason and that I have a strong and powerful voice,” she said to ABC News.

3. Asia Newson

Asia Newson is proof that you can be a businesswoman at any age. When she was only 5, she started a company called Super Business Girl. She started out by selling candles, but now, as a teen, she hopes to do even more with her company — like helping build small businesses in her town of Detroit and teaching other children about business and entrepreneurship. “I’m in the process of hiring people,” she told Forbes in 2017. “I have different mentors to teach the children how to make their own money, but I need more. That’s my dream.”

4. Amariyanna "Mari" Copeny

You may know her best as “Little Miss Flint.” Mari Copeny just turned 12 this year. When she was 8, she wrote a letter to Barack Obama about the water crisis in Flint and persuaded him to come visit and help in the ongoing issue. She’s continued to help Flint thrive by partnering with organizations to make sure that the students in Flint have everything they need for a successful school year. She also has no problem speaking in public, even at the White House. Who knows what else she’s capable of?

5. Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is currently 22 years old. But when she was 17, she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work advocating for education for everyone. Even now, many of her days are spent talking to  underprivileged young women, trying to give them a platform to tell their stories. Her advocacy made her a target for organizations that don’t believe in women’s rights, but that hasn’t stopped her from helping other women reach their educational goals. “I’m totally not afraid of death,” she once told CNN. “And when I look at the support of people, then I’m sure that this cause is never going to die.”

6. Mikaila Ulmer

Fans of Shark Tank might recognize Mikaila Ulmer. A few years back, she was on the show to promote her business — at the ripe old age of 9. That business? Lemonade. But Ulmer’s lemonade was different from other stands you might see. Called Me & the Bees, her Flaxseed Lemonade helps support the declining bee population. Without bees, our crops are severely in danger. Her lemonade is available at Whole Foods, and buying it is a great way to support young women in business.

7. Autumn Peltier

Autumn Peltier just celebrated her 15th birthday this past September. But she was just 13 when she chose to speak about water protection and the importance of clean water. Her main focus is on indigenous communities, who often lack clean drinking water. She’s become a true leader and has proven that people of any age are capable of speaking at the UN.

8. Bana al-Abed

Bana al-Abed, a refugee and author from Syria, is only 10 years old. In 2017, at the age of 8, she detailed what was happening in the city of Aleppo to the world via Twitter, sharing her story with people all over the world. She was offered a book deal soon after. But she also used her fame for good — she made a point to try and bring peace to Syria by asking leaders worldwide for their attention toward the matter. Based on her situation, she’s become one of the youngest activists toward change. She is a constant reminder that real people suffer during wars — even children.

9. Sophie Cruz

Sophie Cruz’s fight to keep her undocumented Mexican immigrant parents in the United States is even more amazing when you realize that she started her activism efforts when she was only 6. Around that time, she hand-delivered a personal letter to the pope to try and help stop ICE from breaking up families. Now, at the age of 8, she’s still one of the youngest people to fight for immigration laws to change.

10. Maya Penn

Maya Penn is currently 19 years old, but she started her eco-friendly clothing business back when she was only 8. She’s gotten an incredible amount of attention for her environmentally friendly ideas and was even named a “SuperSoul 100 Entrepreneur” by Oprah a few years back. She’s not even 20 but has already led her own TED Talk. Most recently, she started up her own nonprofit, which she calls Maya’s Ideas 4 the Planet. Suffice to say; she’s going places.