The Kids Are Alright: Young Activists Driving Change

Young global activists try to right the powers that be.

It's been a mere seven years since we first heard the story of Malala Yousafzai, the young girl from Pakistan's troubled Swat Valley region who in October 2012 survived a gunshot to the head after a masked gunman boarded her school bus - a targeted attack because she had spoken out about her life under oppressive Taliban rule.

Now 22 years-old, Yousafzai is a leading global voice for the rights of girls to free, safe and quality education and is the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

Her fight extends to ending child marriage was recently in Ethiopia where she “heard from girls and education advocates about their lives, challenges and the changes they want to see in their country”.

Yousafzai, along with other young activists such as 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and Australian transgender rights advocate Georgie Stone, is part of a new generation of young leaders unabashedly speaking truth to power.

Teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg, holds a "school strike for climate" banner.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thunberg, who rose to notoriety after a solo climate change protest outside Swedish parliament in August 2018 snowballed into a global movement of young people demanding action on climate change under the "school strike for climate" banner, recently attended the latest round of United Nations climate talks in New York City and arrived on a yacht boasting solar panels and underwater turbines for generating onboard electricity.

Thunberg's powerful message, asking why children should be concerned with their future education when the planet's biosphere is bowing under the effects of human-induced climate change, is placing pressure on international political leaders to take action and inspiring millions to demand the same.

In Australia, human rights advocate Stone continues to blaze a trail for young transgender people through her burgeoning acting career, playing transgender teen Mackenzie Hargraves on the long-running Australian soap, Neighbours.

The support network set up by Stone and her mother Rebekah Robertson, called Transcend, provides a grassroots support network for the families of transgender children across the nation.

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