Young Leaders Directory 2023

To celebrate 2023's International Day of the Girl, explore our fourth edition of the Young Leaders Directory, a directory of incredible young activists, leaders and campaigners. These girls and non-binary young leaders are working to change the world across issues including social justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, climate action, education activism, disability rights, and gender equality.

You can also explore previous editions of the Young Leaders Directory in 2022, 2021 and 2020 here.

With thanks to Purposeful for its support in identifying these inspiring activists.

Jane Adisa Okelo

Jane Adisa Okelo is an 18 year old girls’ rights activist from Kisumu, Kenya. Jane is a recent high school graduate waiting to advance her academic aspirations at university to pursue a degree in Applied Communication.

She is a current beneficiary of RCWG’s Mentoring & Empowerment Retreat program and her pursuit of excellence in the program has earned her several accolades including sisterhood and leadership awards. As part of her capacity building, Jane is currently serving as an intern at RCWG during her gap year to increase her knowledge base and gain valuable work experience. Her involvement in the program has equipped Jane with the skills to advocate for girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights in an effort to raise awareness of the increased rate of teenage pregnancy cases in her community.

When not immersed in books about African Women sheroes, you can find Jane behind a computer researching girls in leadership. Her achievements are a testament to the incredible power of girls and the need to invest in them. With her drive and enthusiasm, Jane is sure to continue making a positive impact and motivate others to do the same.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“People should engage women in more activities to help support their activities. Also, people can support by providing funds that can help support the work of women and girls.”

Follow Jane on Instagram and TikTok.

Afghan Dreamers

The Afghan Girls Robotics Team evolved out of a Digital Citizen Fund STEM program supporting women and girls in gaining access to technology and education to obtain the skills they need to achieve financial independence. They would like to spotlight the following members:

Afsana Ahmadi Shirinsukhan represented Afghanistan at the LDC5 conference, she also volunteered at the Carnival Bazar, supporting cancer patients and presenting her robots at the Doha Debates.

Freshta Bahadur Shah Khil’s journey with the team led her through a year of immersive learning, covering electronics, programming, and mechanics.

Marwa Shinwari is a distinguished member of the Afghan Girl's Robotics Team. Marwa is determined to pursue a degree in Medicine in the UK, with the aim of instigating positive transformation within her community and championing the rights of the young generation deprived of their fundamental access to education. Her goal is to encourage them to actively participate in community development.

Sumia Qattali is a proud member of the team, which has provided her with a unique opportunity to challenge herself, learn new things, and refine her skills in the field of robotics.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

Afsana Ahmadi - “I strongly urge the United Nations to take substantial action towards facilitating the reopening of schools and universities in Afghanistan specifically for girls. It is of paramount importance to ensure that education remains accessible to all, regardless of gender. I kindly request the support of individuals in Afghanistan to stand by the side of their daughters and sisters. To the resilient girls and women of Afghanistan, I implore you not to lose hope. Together, let’s raise our collective voice, unwaveringly advocating for our rights.”

Freshta Bahadur Shah Khil - “Take a stand for gender equality and education by advocating for online learning resources and safe spaces in regions like Afghanistan. Support initiatives that empower girls to explore technology, like robotics education. Engage in mentorship, share success stories, and foster an inclusive environment that encourages girls to pursue careers in tech. Your voice and actions can uplift these aspiring young minds, driving positive change and innovation. Stand with us in making education and gender equality a reality.”

Marwa Shinwari - “One action that would significantly help our work is to spread awareness about our initiatives and share our mission with their networks. By raising awareness, they're helping us reach more individuals who can potentially contribute, whether through mentorship, resources, or partnerships. Together, we can make a substantial difference in empowering young minds and advancing STEM education in Afghanistan and beyond. ”

Sumia Qattali - “As a member of the Afghan Girls Robotics team, I would like to request the world's support in our journey to empower young girls in Afghanistan through robotics and STEM education. There are several ways that people can help us make a difference. The most important one is to spread the word about our team and our mission. Share our accomplishments, stories, and projects on social media to raise awareness. And if people have expertise in robotics or STEM, we would love to collaborate with them. Mentorship and knowledge-sharing can have a profound impact on our growth and success. Together, we can break barriers, inspire change, and provide opportunities for Afghan girls to thrive in the world of robotics.”

Follow Afghan Dreamers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and find out more here.

Zahra Basil

Zahra is a 19 year old Pakistani student and youth advocate whose work primarily centres on climate justice and gender inequality. With the support and platform of the Re-Earth Initiative - a youth-led global organisation dedicated to fostering regeneration and empowering communities to champion collaborative climate solutions - she aims to make the climate movement more inclusive.

Zahra is currently working with them to provide financial support to local, grassroots climate mitigation efforts across the world. She is also a gender rights activist, with a focus on eradicating menstrual poverty. As co-founder of a women's collective and member of several local feminist organisations, she works to increase the accessibility of menstrual products and create safe spaces where womxnhood is celebrated.

She is also passionate about encouraging inter-cultural harmony and bonds beyond borders and so runs Qurbat, a virtual exchange program for South Asian youth to collaborate and connect.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Realise that there are always ways you can contribute to something positive. This could be by simply educating yourself and others around you about significant issues, engaging in relevant discourse, or simply acknowledging your own privileges. On an individual level, truly every (seemingly) little effort counts, and your fear of not making a "huge impact" is stopping you from making any.”

Follow Zahra on Instagram and find out more here.

Sara Bonaparte

Sara Bonaparte is a 17 year old Italian-Nigerian student and young writer based in Turin. She is the founder of Today’s Lives Project, an international platform dedicated to raising awareness about stories that matter and providing new insight into migrant crisis, discrimination, and cultural and racial identity, among others. She is also a writer and member of the Student Advisory Board for the LA Times High School Insider.

Since 2023, she has collaborated with the non-profit organisation Malala Fund; as a writer for its digital publication and newsletter, Assembly, she recently covered an article about racism in Italy and interviewed two distinguished book authors and activists honoured by the United Nations.

In the future, she hopes to fight for human rights and make a change in the lives of BIPOC communities.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Educate yourself about how society is changing. Stay engaged in world politics and near you: remember that your voice and actions can always change people’s lives.”

Follow Sara on Instagram, TikTok and find out more here.

Āniva Clarke

Āniva Clarke is a 17 year old environment and child rights activist from Samoa, now studying abroad in New Zealand. Growing up in Samoa, she was taught that we all have a strong connection to our natural environment and must protect it to stop our islands from disappearing under rising seas. When she was 11, she established a primary school-based environment club, called “Eco-Toa” (Eco-Warrior) which meets weekly to promote environmental awareness, education and activism.

She is a public speaker about children’s rights to a healthy environment. In 2019, she became a youth climate advisor for the Children’s Rights International Network. Since 2022, Āniva has been the Pacific voice on the Children’s Advisory Team for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. In this role, she has helped develop and promote General Comment 26 which is authoritative guidance on what governments must do to uphold children’s environmental rights impacted by the climate crisis.

Āniva also uses her school student leadership position to advocate for bridging the gap to connect people to each other and to our planet.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I would love everyone to make small changes each day to help our environment. Walk instead of driving, shop sustainably, reduce your red meat consumption, turn off lights you aren’t using, and grow a garden. Even these small acts can reduce our individual emissions and make a difference. If everyone made daily changes to their habits, together these would be enormous steps towards saving our planet and our future.”

Follow Āniva on Instagram and find out more here.

Claudia Collins

Claudia Collins is a 16 year old British campaigner on the impact of social media on teenage mental health. During the pandemic, through her personal experience, she became increasingly aware of harmful content being recommended to young people online. She decided to spread awareness and share her fears of the impact this was having on their mental health by writing articles for national media.

Through her advocacy, Claudia earned a place on Amnesty International’s Children’s Human Rights Network, the youngest person ever to be appointed. She has chaired its subgroup on mental health provision since 2022 and helped organise Amnesty’s ‘Freedom of Expression’ youth conference, leading interactive workshops aiming to increase dialogue on children’s mental health online. She has continued to spread awareness through speaking at conferences for audiences of adults and young people alike.

Claudia went on to present a BBC documentary examining the algorithms behind harmful content and has advocated on various TV and radio programmes for change in the law to protect young people.

Beyond campaigning on online safety, Claudia has written on how we can change education to help girls stay in school, winning a global competition organised by the Financial Times and Restless Development for young voices addressing issues that matter to them.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I believe the best way to improve mental health is to talk about it. Poor mental health is too often a silent struggle and is treated as a taboo topic in homes. We need to start to have more open and honest conversations from a young age, so we can deepen our understanding of mental health and in particular the impact that social media has upon it. I want to encourage more people to feel they can speak about their experiences so that mental health can be something discussed openly and without fear.”

Follow Claudia on LinkedIn.

Maria da Silva

Maria da Silva is a 18 year old youth activist who is passionate about equal rights for everyone. She is committed to Amnesty's work and is part of the movement to end abuses of human rights. In her town, she leads one of Amnesty's youth activist groups and advocates for rights for all. She is also the leader of the Amnesty Norway Youth Council.

Maria also makes an extra effort for girls' and children's rights as an activist in Plan International. She is part of Plan's youth group in Norway which works with long-term development work and to engage youth in these topics. She wishes to continue to fight for human rights and hopes to be able to work with such topics in the future.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I would really appreciate it if everyone made an extra effort to engage today's youth in the face of injustice and help fight against it.”

Follow Maria on LinkedIn.

Othembele Dyantyi

Othembele Dyantyi is a 14 year old Clean Air Campaign Lead at Black Girls Rising. At the age of 11, Othembele started raising her voice to encourage a union of action against this unprecedented climate injustice. “I want to take the responsibility to stand up for something that can risk my future,” she says.

At the forefront of the South African resistance, Othembele and her army of youth activists are spreading awareness about the causes and severity of the climate crisis.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I am very passionate about access to clean air. If you are based in Cape Town, you are welcome to join us once a month on a Saturday for exploration through different parks across the city, where we measure the quality of the air and highlight the need for healthy, clean access safe spaces for play.”

Follow Othembele on Instagram.

Aya Elzein

Aya Elzein is an 18 year old Sudanese activist who has been making a significant impact in the Sudanese civil society sector since the tender age of 14. With unwavering dedication and a deep-rooted passion for social justice, Aya has become a driving force for positive change in her community and beyond.

Aya's most recent endeavour can be witnessed through her involvement with Tayf, a youth-led initiative focused on championing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Sudan. Through her work, Aya has been instrumental in raising awareness and challenging the societal stigma surrounding crucial issues affecting young people. In recognition of her exceptional commitment and expertise, Aya also serves as an advisor with Purposeful. In this role, she contributes her valuable insights and perspectives to help guide the organisation's strategic decisions in the region.

Passionate about a multitude of causes, Aya actively advocates for social justice, African feminism, liberation, anti-imperialism, and LGBTQIA+ rights. She firmly believes in dismantling oppressive structures and addressing systemic inequalities that hinder progress and perpetuate marginalisation.

Aya's dedication to these causes and her embodiment of values such as compassion and empathy is not only evident in her activism but also in her everyday life.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Be more empathetic, educate yourself, engage in open and respectful conversations, challenge your own biases, and actively support initiatives that promote equality and justice for all.”

Follow Aya on Instagram.

Maria Esperanta Gaspard

Maria Esperanta Gaspard is an 18 year old young leader passionate about women's rights and young people finding' independence through education.

She participated and was a winner in a beauty pageant competition at her school. Her project ‘School Community in Health and Safety’ explains how important it is to teach young students and high school adolescents how to respond to emergency situations such as fire, natural disasters and other situations of danger.

She is also part of Plug in the World, an association that passionately fights for human rights.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“One thing that people could do to help my work is to have consciousness of their actions to say no, I need to change, I need to make something positive for myself and my community.”

Follow Maria on Instagram.

Silvia Gaspard

Silvia Gaspard is a 21 year old activist from Haiti engaged in gender-responsive awareness, human rights and climate adaptation and action planning. Looking at the daily challenges that women and girls are facing in her community, made her the role model that she is today.

Silvia’s expertise in global security and safety made her realise the importance of sharing knowledge on women’s personal safety. Silvia is very active and committed and promoting equal opportunities for young boys and girls in her society.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

Mentorship: I would like that we start mentoring the younger generation on the impacts of their actions in society.

Follow Silvia on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Romina Grigore

Romina Grigore is a 19 year old Roma activist. She volunteers at E-Romnja, a Romanian NGO whose mission is to fight for the rights of Roma women and girls and she is also a member of the Romani youth group in her city that helps Roma people make their voices heard.

She likes to write poems about feminism, about her experiences as a Roma girl and one she’s especially proud of is “It’s me. I resist.” published by Romani Gender Experts NGO as it's about her struggle between her gender and her ethnicity. One of her dreams is to do research in the neurological field to educate the public. She was selected by Oxford for Romania to participate at a summer school in Oxford, a program for students with academic potential.

Last year, together with the girls from the Roma youth group, she made a video for International Day of the Girl which got 100k views. They wanted to show everyone how they wanted to be seen, not as poor girls who don't go to school, who are forced to marry or can only have children, but as independent, brave and smart.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I would like people to learn to truly support disadvantaged communities and teach them the art of courage and give them the space they need to be heard.”

Follow Romina on Instagram.

Faith Guilbault

Faith Guilbault is a 19 year old from Baltimore, Maryland who is visually impaired and has cerebral palsy, which affects her ability to move, maintain balance, and posture. But she does not want anyone to feel sorry for her. She is resilient, hard-working, and determined to realise her dreams. She uses her social media platform and her documentary to bring awareness and share resources with the 61 million people in the United States living with a disability and their families.

Her documentary Faith’s World won the United Nations Association Film Festival’s Youth Vision Award, a People’s Choice Award, the Richmond International Film Festival’s Rising Star Award, and came in first place at the 17th annual My Hero International Film Festival. Faith’s World has been made available to schools worldwide for their curriculum along with a standards-aligned school guide and a take-action guide to engage kids in conversations and actions around education and inclusion.

She has served as a State Ambassador for the Maryland Best Buddies program, attended Developmental Disability Day with her state legislators and was selected as a finalist for outstanding leadership and commitment to community for the Women of Tomorrow Awards. Faith was featured in Assembly, the online magazine founded by Malala, a Nobel Laureate and fellow activist.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Look at the good in people and find the positive in every situation, no matter how bad it may seem. I truly believe that the broken parts of us are what make us beautiful.”

Follow Faith on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and find out more here.

Ain Husniza

Ain Husniza is a 19 year old Malaysian student activist who has gained recognition for her efforts in promoting gender equality in schools and speaking out against rape culture. Her boldness came to the fore when she publicly called out a teacher who made inappropriate rape jokes in class, and her courage led to the launch of the nationwide movement #MakeSchoolASaferPlace, which garnered over 24 million views on TikTok.

Ain continues her work with AIN Advocacy and other international initiatives, championing the cause of women's rights and inspiring young people to stand up against injustice.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I would appreciate it if people could support my cause by utilising the hashtag #MakeSchoolASaferPlace when sharing their experiences of sexual exploitation in school. This will help raise awareness and create a sense of unity among survivors. Additionally, it would be great if people could alter their attitudes towards young people and promote our voices. It is essential that we are believed when we speak out against the injustices and discriminatory practices of the education system in order to actually move towards reform.”

Follow Ain on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

Onitina Iavotriniaina Raharimalala

Onitina Iavotriniaina Raharimalala is the 19 year old President of the Girls for Change Association in Madagascar and her commitment to the empowerment of girls in the digital domain is a passion that has guided her since her childhood in a small village. She has always dreamed of creating a world where girls can excel in information technology without barriers.

Under her leadership, their association has successfully launched numerous projects aimed at giving girls the skills to thrive in the digital world. They have offered free training in web and office development, thereby broadening their educational and professional horizons.

For Onitina, every small step towards gender equality is a personal victory. She is deeply moved to see how their vision has come to life in various regions, changing the destiny of many young girls by opening doors to essential skills.

Onitina’s leadership, her unwavering passion for the cause of girls and her desire to break gender barriers are at the heart of her mission. She works tirelessly to realise this vision that is so close to her heart, working towards a world where girls play a central and influential role in the digital domain, because their success is a victory for us all.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I would like to meet collaborators (companies, NGOs, ...) and donors who would accompany me to improve the education of marginalised young girls in Madagascar.”

Follow Onitina on Facebook.

Batoul Ibrahim

Batoul Ibrahim is a 19 year old activist living in Jerusalem. Batoul is active in social work, volunteering at the Domari Society, which aims to improve the quality of life of the Dom (Gypsy) community in the Middle East.

She feels happy when she makes children happy and sees the happiness on their faces and enjoys leading activities for the young people in the community.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I would like people to help make a change in the way they act.”

Find out more about the Domari Society here.

Maria Jose Palomeque

Maria Jose Palomeque is an 18 year old activist for human rights, climate justice, and gender equality, born in southern Mexico,

Her passion for promoting gender equality in her region led her to be a Youth Councilor for the UN Foundation Initiative in Mexico, Girl Up.

Due to her work in human rights activism, she was recently invited to join the Activist-Led Advisory Group along with other young leaders at Amnesty International.

This year, she was selected as part of the Education Steering Committee by the World Food Forum, with the aim of creating a healthier and more sustainable planet through educational solutions for youth.

Her objective to promote climate and gender justice is reflected in the Latin American initiative EmpoderaClima, where she is the Advocacy Lead. Maria Jose is also a Young Champion at the UN Refugee Agency.

She recently founded EducateHer, an educational platform that seeks to promote the leadership of girls and women in Latin America in STEM, Environment, Communication, and Governance.

In addition to social justice issues, Maria Jose has a great passion for writing. This has led her to be present in media such as The Climate Reality Project, Malala Fund, and Coolhunter.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“My goal as a person and an activist has always been to make an impact on the world and people.

Therefore, I would invite everyone to question the world around them. Many times we will have to be the first, and even the only ones, to point out that something is wrong. Take that as an impulse to create change.

The first step to changing and improving the world is to create awareness of what is happening. Speak up and take action on the issue you are passionate about.

Follow Maria on Instagram and find out more here.

Nabiha Kassim Ally

Nabiha Kassim Ally is a 21 year old graduate of Lumumba Secondary School and a member of the Youth of the United Nations Association in Zanzibar. She is currently a UNICEF youth advocate and is passionate about sexual and reproductive health and rights, and mental health advocacy.

Nabiha was one of the representatives of children and young people who championed key issues affecting young Tanzanians among various stakeholders in commemoration of 75 years of UNICEF. She is also a champion of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and, during consultation with members of parliament in 2019, used her voice to address challenges about the education system in Tanzania. She is very passionate about achieving the SDGs.

Nabiha is also a champion trainer who completed five days of champion training hosted by UNICEF Africa. Her message to people is to be someone’s sunshine when their skies are grey.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“If there's something that I would really wish to happen that would help me in my work, it is for people to change their mindsets and the way that they think towards my advocacy issues (sexual and reproductive health and mental health). This is because it is a sort of taboo to talk about sexual and reproductive health matters and you are labelled as mannerless if you choose to talk about these issues. They are taken to be very private issues. Also, most of the time people mistake mental health with superstitious beliefs and when someone is mentally disturbed, they are taken to a witch doctor/religious leader instead of getting professional help.”

Follow Nabiha on Instagram and Twitter.

Tian Liu

Tian Liu is an 18 year old, second-generation immigrant and daughter of a single mom, from Beeston, South Leeds.

From being involved in the school council since primary school, she has been working hard to make a positive impact amongst her peers alongside advocating for their sometimes neglected needs. This commitment has been recognised by her peers who have elected her into positions of influence repeatedly as head girl, co-student president and member of the Youth Parliament for Leeds.

With her charismatic leadership and influence, she continuously advocates for youth voice, climate action and making mental health support accessible. This ranges from talking with representatives from the UK Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport, politicians, youth groups and even shaking King Charles' hand. All of this has deepened her passion for social mobility, justice and activism as she yearns to utilise the knowledge and skills that come from her school and family to not only understand the difficulties within her community but also provide solutions.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“In my campaigns and manifesto, I discussed problems that I believe affect young people the most: their homes, mental health, environment and education. We should improve housing, increase versatility in education, tackle the stigma of ‘not seeking help’ and embrace mental health rather than being seen as a hindrance. The voice of youth is louder than ever before, but now we just need action. My tip for those wanting to get involved in politics is to be firm, positive and open-minded. Don't ever lose hope.”

Follow Tian on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Chiara Longo

Chiara Longo is an 18 year old Italian advocate for gender equality and climate change. She is part of Girl Up, Youthtopia and UN Climate Change. She writes on Assembly, Malala Fund's digital publication. In 2022, she led a workshop at the Girl Up Leadership Summit.

In 2020 she founded #PlugInTheWorld, an international youth-led organisation that aims to empower girls to speak up on the issues that matter to them. Her team includes 25 girls coming from all over the world and her work has been featured on national media. In February 2023, Chiara was honoured with the title of Alfiere della Repubblica (Standard Bearer of the Republic) by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I'd love to encourage young girls to speak up and never be afraid of doing so. Moreover, my dream would be that young people globally can join #PlugInTheWorld and share their visions, hopes and dreams with us.

I would like #PlugInTheWorld to become a space where everyone feels welcome.

There are many ways you can help us in our mission: joining the team, liking and following our Instagram page, donating to our Ko-Fi page or submitting a written piece for our website.”

Follow Chiara on Instagram, Ko-Fi and find out more here.

Floridalma López Atz

Floridalma López Atz is a 21 year old indigenous woman, originally from the rural community of Pachay, San Martín Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango in Guatemala. She has been a leader, defender of Human Rights and social and environmental activist since she was 9 years old.

Floridalma integrates and supports social, student and religious organisations, such as: Indigenous Women's Platform, La Enredadera Collective, CONALIGUA, Caminantes Youth Movement, Guatemalan Parliament of Children, Adolescents and Youth, La Revuelta Student Collective, among others.

She is a national gender youth activist for UN Women Global and Young Delegate of UNICEF LAC at the 2nd Conference on Scientific Evidence and Public Policies: Climate Change in America.

Floridalma is dedicated to: training and empowering children, youth and women; environmental education linked to good practices of indigenous and rural communities; strengthening community actions in defence and promotion of Human Rights; promoting local projects; coordinating diplomas and environmental campaigns; promoting the leadership and participation of children, young people and women in various spaces; digital activism; advising authorities and institutions with solutions based on the realities of the communities and act as spokesperson in national and international spaces.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I call for our individual struggles to join with collective struggles to enhance actions, since articulation is important to build better solution proposals and put them into action. It is time to act! Every small action counts: reduce your plastic consumption, save energy, plant trees and support renewable energy. Together we can create a more sustainable future for generations to come. Do your part today and join the fight for a cleaner, greener world!”

Follow Floridalma on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook.

Sofia Luna Quispe

Sofia Luna Quispe is a 19 year old climate activist of Quechua indigenous heritage based in Peru. Raised in a household of Andean campesinos, she was surrounded by ancestral knowledge on land care, agriculture and indigenous medicine. However, growing up in a peri-urban marginalised area in north Lima, her community was affected by biodiversity loss and food insecurity, which inspired her advocacy.

For over four years, she has advocated for environmental action in the fields of policy, climate and gender, and food systems innovation. She has been a part of international climate spaces such as COP 27 and was a speaker at the plenary of the 2023 UN Water Conference.

She is currently a Campaign Coordinator at Re-Earth Initiative, an international organisation of youth advocating for climate justice and a national representative for the Lima and Callao regions at the Youth Environmental Commission of the Ministry of the Environment of Peru.

Recently, as a member of the Board of Directors of the youth-led organisation Ollas Sostenibles, she led the winning team of the MIT Solv[ED] Youth Innovation Challenge 2023.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Donate to the Re-Earth Initiative! https://reearthin.org/ Through our new youth-led process of re-granting for ecosystem restoration, climate justice, and frontline community support we aim to redistribute resources to reach those who work on the ground as the most impacted by the climate crisis.”

Follow Sofia on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Britney Madondo

Britney Madondo is the 20 year old Creative Director of Mind The Gap Ireland and Miss Nigeria Ireland and a producer, director and activist living in Dublin. Her motto in life is to “leave the world a better place the way that you found it”.

She is a forward-thinking young woman who loves community-based initiatives, outdoor life, music and nature. In the past, she has worked with families of people in long-term imprisonment.

As a film and broadcasting student at Technological University Dublin, she recently directed her first documentary that featured at the Galway Film Festival.

She plans to use her career in this field, philanthropy and fashion to empower young people to be the game changers of tomorrow.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“With my campaign to stamp out human trafficking, it is important for people to research the signs so that they can pay close attention to who could be a potential victim as well as the perpetrators. I post about human trafficking on my page and I raise awareness about it so I would urge people to do the same and they can go to my page for more information.”

Follow Britney on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

Olivia Mandle

Olivia Mandle is a 16 year old animal rights activist and environmental warrior, and one of the leading youth voices on environmental issues in Spain. Her campaign, #noespaisparadelfines, with over 155,000 signatures on Change.org, asks the Spanish government for the scheduled closure of all dolphinariums in Spain and an end to cetaceans in captivity.

At age 12 she created the “Jelly Cleaner” to clean microplastics from the oceans. She organises beach cleanups, workshops in schools, and is a featured speaker at conferences on sustainability and animal welfare.

She has been named as an EU Ambassador for Climate Change, Marine Ambassador for World Animal Protection, Jane Goodall Institute award-winner, 2x TEDx speaker, and a National Geographic Storyteller. Olivia has written a book on climate change called, Sí Es Cosa Tuya (Yes, it’s up to you), and is the host and presenter of the TV show Kanviem? (Time for a change?), both coming out in autumn 2023.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Please sign my campaign to ban dolphins and cetaceans in captivity in Spain: #noespaisparadelfines on Change.org.”

Follow Olivia on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and find out more here.

Aladeselu Margaret Ayomikun

Aladeselu Margaret Ayomikun is a 20 year old feminist writer and gender activist based in Lagos, Nigeria. Her fervent dedication to ending period poverty and providing access to sanitary menstrual products for girls from low-income families has garnered global attention. Her impactful petition has received support from influential figures like Malala Yousafzai, accumulating over 6,000 signatures. Margaret's commitment to championing positive change on women-centric issues is evident through her well-received articles published on esteemed blogs such as Zikoko, Assembly and The Moveee.

Her passion for empowering women and breaking barriers continues to inspire and create a lasting impact on society.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I'd love people to join me in ending period poverty in Nigeria by signing my petition - here.”

Follow Aladeselu on Instagram and Twitter.

Sophia Mathur

Sophia Mathur is a 16 year old environmental activist. Her lobbying to politicians began at age 7 and has taken her all the way to the US Congress and the Canadian Parliament with the organisation Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

She embraced Greta Thunberg’s call for youth climate action in November 2018 and was the first youth outside Europe to do Fridays for Future strikes starting on November 2, 2018. With Ecojustice, Sophia is one of seven young people taking the Ontario Government to court for weakening Ontario’s 2030 climate target. She was trained by Climate Reality and Al Gore in the summer of 2020 and recorded over 100 Acts of Leadership.

Sophia was an observer at COP26 and COP27 with many media events where she challenged the fossil fuel industry. Sophia has also been featured in several documentaries, magazine articles and books including “COP26: In Your Hands” with King Charles and a speaking cameo in “I am Greta”.

She has won numerous prestigious and international awards centred around her dedication to the climate emergency.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Sophia encourages any activity that empowers politicians to listen to the experts and cooperate to solve the climate crises. Sophia wants all governments to sign the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Sophia wants the message that human rights and environmental rights are inextricably linked to be shared. Sophia wants citizens to vote for a sustainable and liveable future for all.”

Follow Sophia on Instagram and Twitter.

Noella McMaher

Noella McMaher is an 11 year old transgender international runway model and activist. She started her activism work at age seven when she was named Illinois’ youngest trans activist for her visibility for kids who have been the victim of a hate crime or discrimination due to their gender identity. She was also recognised for her vital part in the initial fundraising efforts for the first trans-run and trans-operated non-profit in Illinois: Brave Space Alliance.

Noella first became known internationally as the youngest transgender individual to walk in New York Fashion Week at only 10 years old. She has graced runways across the United States and in Paris with a mission to bring visibility to breaking stereotypes in fashion. You can find her in publications in over a dozen countries including Vogue, Marie Claire, Forbes, Reuters and many more, with the goal to educate society on embracing transgender youth and adolescents.

She was most recently an ambassador for Spirit Day 2022 for GLAAD and named a game changer in the fashion industry in the premiere issue of MiniV magazine in January 2023.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Supporting transgender youth and their access to medical care.”

Follow Noella on Instagram.

Anelisa Mgedezi

Anelisa Mgedezi started to find her voice as an intersectional climate activist at 12 years old. She attended her first global climate march at the age of 11 outside Parliament in Cape Town to support her friend Yola Mgogwana in delivering a speech about the need for climate justice to about 2000 fellow pupils.

Now 14, Anelisa regularly speaks out on issues that directly affect our planet – their neighbourhood – at a tipping point in climate history. She also runs a food security campaign mentoring 10 girls between the ages of 9 to 11 to help teach their community about the importance of growing their food and also holds food dialogues.

Anelisa understands that her voice has to travel far in the face of so much climate inaction in many sectors of society.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I want to continue to help my community by growing food systems that can support and feed families and nurture our environment. One of my dreams is to start a nursery, but funds and mentoring have been an issue. If you are willing to help or have a wealth of information about starting and running a nursery in an informal settlement, I would appreciate your support.”

Follow Anelisa on Instagram.

Yola Mgogwana

Yola Mgogwana is a voice of change and speaks for the voiceless, especially those from vulnerable and marginalised communities. From the age of 11, she has been advocating and holding the government accountable.

She started an Eco Club to spread awareness, educate children and youth on climate issues and inspire them to speak up about challenging problems affecting their community. Yola is a Black Girls Rising member, a spokesperson at the African Climate Alliance, and one of the young people involved in the youth-led #CancelCoal climate case against the South African government's plans for coal-fired power.

She is also the young advisor for the Children's International Network. One of her goals for 2023 is to write a children's climate educational book.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Follow my work under Black Girls Rising and help support us spread awareness about my Clean Air Campaign.”

Follow Yola on Instagram.

Phuong Nhi

Phuong Nhi is a 20 year old queer feminist. She is a member of a grassroots civil society organisation in Vietnam and is currently working to promote gender equality and the participation of young people in social movements.

She advocates for women's and girls' rights to their own community and also to make changes in the legal system.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Recognising that femininity and care perspective has always been neglected or even oppressed in patriarchal societies, I hope we treat ourselves (and others) with love more than anything else.”

Find out more about Phuong’s work here.

Diya Payal

Diya Payal is a 15 year old activist from Uttarakhand which is in the western Himalayas in India, for farmer's rights and has a keen interest in organic farming.

Through film, Diya tells the story of generations of Indian farmers who live off the land and sell the surplus, and the importance of maintaining traditional organic seeds versus genetically modified seeds. She explores how industrial-scale farming can lead to local habitat loss, invasive species, water and air pollution and global warming.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Speak up for farmers’ rights and practise organic farming.”

Find out more about Diya's film with ByKids here.

Aminta Permpoonwiwat

Aminta Permpoonwiwat is an 18 year old Thai sustainability advocate and Chancellor’s Scholar at Vanderbilt University. As the winner of the fifth Human Rights Youth Challenge and the Youth Advisor to the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, she has facilitated events at the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council.

She is the Project Manager and Founder of Youth Mentorship Project, a youth organisation dedicated to teaching students from vulnerable groups the values of sustainability and resilience through STEAM subjects. Driven by her interest in the intersection between quality education, inequality, and climate change, Aminta has engaged over 800 young students across the country to address these issues.

Amplifying her work at various events, including the ECOSOC Youth Forum 2023, the UN Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition Pre-COP26 and Youth4Climate: Powering Action UNGA, Aminta has represented the voice of Thai youth on the international stage. She is also part of the SDGs Youth Panel for the UN in Thailand and hopes to build an inclusive society where everyone can have access to their human rights, regardless of their gender, race or ethnicity.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“There's no single, correct way to make the world better and more sustainable. Collective action is needed from everyone. Just change ONE thing from your daily routine. Simple? Yes, but millions of small things done simultaneously could lead to something much bigger. There’s nothing a hivemind of eight billion people can’t achieve if we share the same ambition.”

Follow Aminta on Instagram.

Amna Quddus

Amna Quddus is a 20 year old advocate for Pakistani women's rights, and champions grassroots initiatives with a specific focus on enhancing female empowerment through education. She directs her efforts toward marginalised girls' schools in the remote regions of South Punjab, Pakistan. Notably, she plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about critical issues including the lack of sanitation, wash facilities, menstruation, and female reproductive systems in girls’ schools across Pakistan.

Appointed as the Global Youth Ambassador for She's the First for the year 2022-23, Amna has collaborated closely with young leaders, ensuring global access to education, respect, and a platform that amplifies girls' voices.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Elevate our impact by shedding light on pressing issues affecting marginalised girls. Advocate on social platforms for equitable education, wider job opportunities and improved healthcare. Stand as a voice against the injustices you encounter in schools, colleges and workplaces. By contributing to fundraisers, initiating dialogues and actively participating in change, you become catalysts for transformation. Let's forge ahead as a collective force, dismantling barriers and fostering resilience. Together, we can rewrite the narratives of these girls, ensuring they emerge from adversity to become architects of their own destinies.”

Follow Amna on Instagram.

Thainá Silva de Paula Theodoro

Thainá Silva de Paula Theodoro is a 19 year old Brazilian activist motivated by personal experiences with gender violence. Over her five years of experience in civic action, she has impacted over 170,000 people around the globe.

Whether she’s studying in the New York Times, doing an exchange in South Africa, or completing her undergraduate degree in the USA, you can see her passion for global citizenship. From leading national and international organisations, giving free English classes to low-income children and attending numerous training courses, Thainá realised that her focus is women’s rights. “For the ones that raised me, for the ones I see developing and for the ones that are yet to come, I see my legacy as opening doors and improving their quality of life.”

That's how in 2021, after a leadership academy — Global Citizen Year Academy — Sem Medo was born. A non-profit that teaches sex education with a Telegram Chatbot to youth in Brazil.

Because of her work at Sem Medo, she has obtained international recognition including as a Paris Women’s Forum Young Ambassador, UNICEF Youth Foresight Fellow finalist, MIT Solv[ED] Prototype Funding recipient and other opportunities.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Research a societal or identity topic that you have preconceptions about.”

Follow Thainá on Instagram and find out more here.

Yeva Skalietska

Yeva Skalietska is a 13 year old girl from Kharkiv, Ukraine. Her hobbies include painting, playing the piano, learning languages and writing.

On February 24 2022, her life changed instantly. Russia started a war with Ukraine and Yeva witnessed the first minutes of the war. All the fear and anxiety that she experienced and lived through, she described in her diary.

On October 25 2022, her diary was published with the title You don't know what war is: the diary of a young girl from Ukraine.

Since March 2022, she has been living in Dublin, Ireland. “I dream that this will help people understand what war really does. It destroys. Families. Children. We can live without wars, hunger, thirst, sickness and suffering. My generation can make our world meaningful and self-sufficient. Strong faith in God works wonders.”

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I want my book to spread more and more around the world and for more people to know about it. And I also want to travel a lot and tell people about the horrors that war can bring, to make the world a kinder and better place.”

Follow Yeva on Instagram.

Marifer Treviño

Marifer Treviño is an 18 year old advocate, activist, and writer, currently studying Law and International Relations at Tecnológico de Monterrey. For the past two years, Marifer has collaborated with esteemed organisations such as UNICEF, Malala Fund, TEDx and Global Peace to bring profound and necessary narratives to life, captivating audiences both nationally and internationally, all in support of SDGs four, five, and ten.

Currently, Marifer holds the positions of writer at Girl Up Mexico and co-founder and board member at EducateHer Initiative, an online educational platform dedicated to empowering girls and young individuals throughout Mexico and Latin America with its comprehensive curriculum covering a wide array of subjects, ranging all the way from STEM/STEAM to climate change and justice.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“Be the voice of those who are afraid to raise their own. Be the voice that fights for gender equality, quality education, and the reduction of inequalities!”

Follow Marifer on Instagram and LinkedIn and find out more here.

Lauryn Wanjiru Ng'ang'a

Lauryn Wanjiru Ng’ang’a is a 17 year old recent high school graduate, who pursued her studies with fervour and excelled academically. Lauryn is a resilient, passionate and determined young activist championing the creation of spaces where girls’ voices are amplified and heard.

Inspired by the works of influential activists and feminists, she's looking to further her career by pursuing a degree in Sociology at university. Her remarkable potential was nurtured at the RCWG Mentorship and Empowerment Retreat Program and this has expanded her knowledge and skills, as well as earning her several awards.

In her gap year, she's currently working as an intern at RCWG, where she's undergoing training to build her career and work experience. Her engagement in the program has enabled her to gain leadership skills helping her mobilise and organise spaces where girls discuss pertinent issues that affect them and collectively map out solutions. As a leader in these spaces, Lauryn encourages her peers, empowering them to break free from societal limitations and pursue their dreams unapologetically.

Lauryn's commitment to making a difference continues to empower and ignite young girls and inspire future generations to challenge the status quo and contribute to a more just, equal and inclusive society.

One action you’d like people to do to help your work

“I would encourage people to actively engage in educating themselves about the issues faced by young girls and women. This includes many things but most importantly funding our initiatives. By funding girls' work, you give us the autonomy to decide our priorities and the resources to adequately respond to issues we are most passionate about. Together, we can create a more equitable and just world for all girls. #EmpowerWomen #GenderEquality.”

Follow Lauryn on Instagram.

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