In 2012, Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist, spoke out publicly about the importance of educating and empowering young girls. Her activism lead to an assassination attempt when she was shot by the Taliban. In December 2014, Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work and works tirelessly as an advocate for girls’ education. Check out her incredible speech at the United Nations Youth Assembly.
Anne Frank was a German-born Jewish girl who was forced to move to Amsterdam during the Nazi regime. There, Anne, her family and a few others, lived in hiding to avoid deportation. During her time, Anne kept a diary, detailing her hopes, dreams and fears. Eventually, Anne’s family was caught and she died in a concentration camp. Following her death, her father, the only surviving member of her family, was so moved by her diary that he decided to publish it.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” she wrote. “Let me be myself and then I am satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inward strength and plenty of courage.”
Joan of Arc
A French martyr and saint, Joan of Arc, born Jeanne d’Arc, drove the French army to victory against England in their attempt to conquer France. She had claimed she heard voices from a divine source, stating she was to save France in the Hundred Years’ War. After their victory, Joan was captured and burned at the stake. She died aged only 19, but Joan changed the destiny of France and became a national heroine.
“I am not afraid… I was born to do this.”
Also known as ‘Little Miss Flint,’ Amariyanna ‘Mari’ Copeny is a youth activist, fighting for clean water for Flint throughout Michigan’s water crisis. She is a voice for underprivileged children in her community. In 2016, Mari wrote a letter to the then President, Barack Obama, urging him to meet with a group of activists who were coming to Washington D.C. to watch the congress’ hearings regarding the Flint water crisis. Instead, Obama came to visit her. Since then she has been a champion for social and environmental justice.
“When we found out the water was making us sick, I decided I wanted to stand up and give a voice to the kids in Flint that couldn’t stand up and speak for themselves.”
Ruby Bridges, a civil rights activist, was the first African American student in 1960 to be integrated into an all-white elementary school in the Southern states of the USA. On November 14th of that year, she was escorted into the class by U.S. marshals to avoid the violent mobs against desegregation. This event marked a significant event in the American civil rights movement.
“Racism is a grown-up disease and we should stop using our kids to spread it.”
Emma Gonzalez is an activist and an advocate for gun control in America. She was a survivor of the Parkland shooting in 2018 at Stoneman Douglas High School. Following the event, Emma co-founded the #neveragain movement, a movement to end gun violence in America through gun control policy. Check out her powerful speech during the 2018 March for Our Lives, a student-led demonstration to support gun violence prevention.
Greta Thunbergis a Swedish environmental activist who has been advocating for climate action across the world. She founded the international youth movement, ‘School Strike for Climate’, a motion calling on governments across the world to act now to prevent climate change. Just in the last few weeks we have seen the power of her activism as millions around the world gathered to participate.
“I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic, and to act as if the house is on fire.”
On this International Day of the Girl, we’re honouring girls everywhere and remembering Maya Angelou’s quote; “I come as one but I stand as ten thousand.”
Share stories today of unscripted and unstoppable girls you know in your community, family or school and find them on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #dayofthegirl.
Every girl carries with us the history, fight and power of the generations of girls that came before us. Together, we are the GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.
Read more about International Day of the Girl Child and ways to get involved here.