Known for being hormonal, moody and apathetic, teenagers don’t always get the best reputation.
But the recent rise to prominence of 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg has smashed all such stereotypes and made people of all ages take notice of what she has to say.
But she is far from the first teenager to prove that young people can make huge changes to the world.
Malala Yousafzai was only 14 when she was shot for speaking out about the lack of education for girls in Pakistan, where she grew up.
Nine months after the attack she gave a speech at the UN, and she continued to campaign tirelessly for fair education for girls.
Aged 17, she became in the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
Young people like Thunberg and Yousafzai are inspirational for everything they’ve accomplished at by such a young age, but they’re not alone.
More and more teenagers are standing up for their beliefs and trying to create a fairer world that aligns with their beliefs. Here are a few of the most influential.
It seems like the future generation may be able to solve the world after all.
The now 16-year-old Greta Thunberg launched the school strike movement in 2018 to protest a lack of government action around climate change. She began protesting outside the Swedish parliament and since then, more than one million students have joined her in an expression of global unity for her cause. Now, the oil and gas industry has said it is "listening" to the young activist.
After a gunman stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida in 2018 killing 17 people, Emma Gonzalez – who was 18 at the time – co-founded the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD. The teenager organised the March for Our Lives protest in Washington and, speaking at the rally, she delivered a powerful speech in which she named every victim of the shooting before standing at the podium, weeping in silence for their lives. “Fight for your lives, before it’s someone else’s job,” she said. Florida lawmakers later passed legislation to make it harder to purchase firearms.
In 2017, 18-year-old Amika George founded #FreePeriods to fight period poverty in the UK. She organised a protest that saw more than 2,000 people dressed in red marching on Downing Street, and not long after the government announced it would begin funding free sanitary products in all English schools and colleges.
At 18, Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest trans people in the public eye. In 2007, along with her parents, she co-founded the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation to help transgender children, and in 2013 she launched Purple Rainbow Tails to raise money for the same cause. She has also written a memoir and launched a YouTube channel which has 650,000 subscribers
Millie Bobby Brown, the 15-year-old Stranger Things actor is also the youngest ever Unicef ambassador, appointed to promote children's rights. She regularly uses her platform to highlight social issues, including the March for our Lives and Time's Up movements.
In the run-up to the midterm elections last year, Black-ish actor Yara Shahidi launched Eighteen x 18, an initiative to encourage young people to vote. She is also the founder Yara’s Club in partnership with Young Women's Leadership Network , which provides online mentorship to end poverty through education. Her activism was praised by Michelle Obama, who wrote her a letter of recommendation to Harvard University.
Sonita Alizadeh is an Afghan rapper who rose to prominence when she released "Brides for Sale" in 2014, after having almost been sold into marriage twice. The song went viral and she ended up going to high school in the US. She is currently at university in Washington, DC, and continues to fight against forced marriage for young women.
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