To celebrate the incredible Malala Yousafzi's 18th, we look at the people defining youth consciousness with education access, feminist rhetoric and transgender representation
Earlier this week, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, human rights activist and best-selling author celebrated her birthday. For someone with as many achievements as she has, you would think she had years to accumulate that kind of influence. In fact, Malala Yousafzai has had just 18.
Incredible, right? Even more incredible that we’ve seen some of the brightest and best young people educate the world on trans rights, secure education for thousands of kids, fight oppressive governments and reinvent feminist discourse in the past few years. Here are some–but definitely, definitely not all– of the young people who are out there changing the world for the better.
At barely 12-years-old, Winnifred’s feminism was super on point when she appeared in the documentary Sexy Baby about sexuality in the cyber age. Now 18, she’s been involved in SLUT: The Play, a production about victim-blaming and the awful demonization of young women who’re aware of their sexuality. She’s been in the headlines recently because of charges she’s pressed against a cop over mistreatment, and she’s not afraid to have her voice heard. She made her directorial debut this year with a production of the Vagina Monologues for her senior thesis, and she graduated too. Onwards and upwards as a badass feminist hero.
She’s the beauty blogger and activist at the forefront of Miley’s portrait project #InstaPride, with a huge following on Youtube. Gigi’s documented her transition online and answered questions from her more than a million subscribers. She’s secured deals with Too-Faced Cosmetics and Crest, using her growing platform to redefine the narrative surrounding transgender.
Rookie editor, feminist and all-round cool girl Tavi Gevinson is the 19-year-old challenging the constraints on young women to lead an empowered, no-nonsense generation. She’s found herself at the forefront of merging teen consciousness and political discussion: backing Obama, doing a public service announcement on women’s rights, and organizing a get well soon card for Malala. This year, she’s continued to speak out on feminism, and in one swift sassy move took down the Satorialist when he criticized her younger writing. You do NOT want to be on the receiving end of the eloquent Gevinson, who took apart the idea that young people have invalid thoughts. We’re totally with you, Tavi.
Oppressed by a Chinese law that binds young people’s education to where they were born, Zhan Haite is the teenager who spoke out against the unfair system and the lack of opportunities available to millions. She was refused entrance to high school in Shanghai under the law, known as Hukou, and protested to have it lifted. Her op-ed in China Daily, Teenage Girl Makes Case for Change, garnered international attention. Now 18, she’s still a voice for a generation hungry for education and change.
JOSHUA WONG CI-FUNG
Leader of Scholarism, a student activist group in Hong Kong, Joshua has been fighting for universal suffrage, democracy and student’s rights. Despite attacks, assaults and arrests, he continues in his quest to quell the tyrannical minority brainwashing the majority. He was recently charged with obstructing police in a Hong Kong democracy protest, where the student and left-wing community are rallying behind him.