From Syria to Brazil, these young girls are taking a stand for what they believe in.
Climate Changer, Brazil
Artemisa Xakriabá, 19, has seen climate change firsthand. As a member of Brazil’s Xakriabá tribe she’s had to face the effects of wildfires and deforestation on the Amazon rainforest. Speaking alongside Greta Thunberg before the UN, Xakriabá said, “We are fighting for our sacred territory. We cannot accept one more drop of indigenous blood spilled.”
Water Warrior, Canada
Autumn Peltier, 15, campaigns for clean water and the rights of indigenous people. Having grown up on Manitoulin island, northern Ontario, she first became aware of toxic water at the age of eight. When she was 12, she confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over his policies on pipeline projects, making him promise to protect the waters. At 14, she spoke to the UN about the sacred role water plays in her culture. And her campaign is having real impact: over the past four years, 87 of Canada’s 144 long-term drinking advisories (issued when water can’t be guaranteed as safe to drink) have been lifted, with clean water piped to more First Nations communities.
The Girl Who Took A Stand, USA
Last year, Naomi Wadler, then 11, addressed more than 200,000 people at the March For Our Lives anti-gun protest in Washington DC. In her speech, which trended worldwide on Twitter and was watched by millions, she spoke of organising her elementary school’s 18-minute walkout. Seventeen minutes of it were in honour of the 17 lives lost in America’s deadliest high school shooting, the 2018 Parkland School massacre. The 18th minute was for 16-year-old black American Courtlin Arrington, shot dead by a classmate at school a few weeks before.
Wadler quickly became a powerful voice for young black women. “I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper,” she said. Wadler also spoke at the 2018 Women in the World Summit in New York and this year’s End Gun Violence Together rally in Washington DC.
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Fighting FGM, Guinea
97% of Guinean women aged 15-49 have suffered female genital mutilation, so in 2016, 16-year-old Hadja Idrissa Bah founded The Young Girl Leaders of Guinea Club to support victims and educate families. Bah says she wants to end stigma around female sexuality and make “shame change sides”.
Front-line reporting, Syria
Ten-year-old Syrian Bana Alabed became an activist at the age of seven, live tweeting during the 2016 siege of her home city, Aleppo. Her tweets provided unfiltered insight into the horrors of airstrikes, and the devastation that millions were facing. Alabed lost her best friend and her home, and she fled Syria with her family. Now settled in Turkey, she continues to call for peace in her homeland and to demand that world leaders do more for the millions of children caught up in conflict. She’s also written a memoir, called Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story Of War And Plea For Peace.
Photography: Getty Images
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