2020 has reinforced the very lesson we grew up learning: life goes on. While COVID 19 continues to plague every facet of our lives, we have also learnt that certain things are unstoppable; just like the five young women who continue to inspire, change and motivate with the sheer passion in their hearts for what they believe in and do. They are the vanguard of change and inspire millions of young people across the world with the sheer force of what they stand for.
Text: Sachi Agrawal
Born: January 3, 2003
Climate change has debated for years but it was in August 2018 when a young girl of 14 took matters into her hands that conversations became more informed and actions became more intentful.
Greta refused to go to school until serious actions were taken to stop climate change. She called it the ‘school strike for climate’. In a world where we become oblivious to problems after a point, Greta’s voice was a clarion call for people who took climate change seriously and an even louder drumbeat for those who dismissed this menace for a long, long time.
Over the course of the following two years, this young girl with Asperger’s Syndrome succeeded in starting conversations around this immediate threat with the UN Convention, US presidents and youth all over the world.
Greta’s story is exceptional because she wasn’t a famous activist asking for answers. She was just a little girl in school who wanted to ensure a future for the coming generations.
Greta is today the voice of young people who want every human being to be accountable for tomorrow. She also showed the world that all it takes is initiative to start change and the fact that change begins from the individual.
Born: April 12, 1994
Every time we watch this wonder woman on screen we imagine it can’t get better, but Saoirse Ronan proves us wrong every time. Not that we’re complaining!
Saoirse discovered her love for cinema at the age of 13 with her first movie ‘Atonement’ where she played precocious Briony Tallis. She received her first nomination for Academy awards that very year. The depth of her emotions has only widened in the time she has had to explore the entertainment industry.
Born: July 12, 1997
No mention of young revolutionaries is complete without the name of Malala Yousafzai. What began as deep will to learn became a resounding voice for girls who are denied the basic right to education.
Malala grew up in Mingora, Pakistan. She started corresponding with the media (BBC Diary) about the denial of a right as basic as education for girls at the age of 11. She wanted to learn, she wanted to grow. Malala used this determination to claim her right at a young age and to speak about the Taliban and how they impaired the society. This non-violent revolt didn’t go down well with the Taliban and they fired three shots at 15-year-old Malala on October 9, 2012. That changed everything and made her voice stronger and more powerful than ever.
Malala has since spoken about women’s right to education at the UN Convention and authored a book – I am Malala. She also became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate at 17.
Malala continues to advocate the right to education for women all over the world who live in repressed societies. She has started the Malala Fund that aids the future of female education in six countries.
Today, Malala is a graduate in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and more determined than ever to ensure women’s equality and access to education.
Born: March 14, 1997
At age 19, Simone Biles became the talk of the town with her glorious win at the Rio Olympics 2016. She won four gold medals, one bronze and one group win that year. Simone, now 23, owns 20 medals – 14 gold, 3 silver, and 3 bronze, and has been a world champion gymnast for four consecutive years.
However, this journey did not come without its share of trials. Simone faced sexual abuse by her gymnast doctor, body shaming and a sense of not belonging as a black girl in a crowd of white people. But no matter what she went through, she continued to persevere, dream and consequently win.
Simone has pushed the boundaries for excellence and already has two gymnastic moves named after her. They are called ‘The Biles’ (a double twist into a double back flip) and ‘The Biles II’ (a triple twist into a double back flip) were unlike anyone had ever seen when Simone performed them for the first time on the international arena. She also might be the only person who can perform them because she is that much better than anyone else.
Her story is a testament to the fact that winners do not have extraordinary advantages but a unique spirit. She will be seen next at the Olympics 2021 in Tokyo.
Born: March 13, 2004
Coco Gauff became a resounding name at the Wimbledon 2019 after her historical win against tennis champion Venus Williams. At 15 years and 3 months only, Coco became the youngest player ever to reach the main draw at Wimbledon last year.
Her journey is just getting started. But she has been preparing for it since the age of seven. Her coach at the training academy, Patrik Mouratoglou has time and again praised her level headed determination to win.
Coco Gauff has made news for all the right reasons so far. She is incredibly pragmatic in the interviews she appears for, indicating that she has been practicing to win through these times.
She has also spoken for social and political issues, and if you think she’s too young to decide, well think again, because what we see here is a winner who knows how to use her voice.