Teen Activists Making a Difference

Libby Johnson, Newspaper Writer

Young people like Malala Yousafzai, Marley Diaz, and Greta Thunberg are making a global impact through activism. By fighting for their voices to be heard, they have furthered the battle against sexism, racism, and global warming.

“If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?” said Malala Yousafzai, when referring to the Taliban influence on her country.

Malala Yousafzai is the recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, author of her book I am Malala, and an activist for female education. She grew up in Pakistan, and when the Taliban took control of her country, the new government began restricting women’s rights and did not allow girls to attend school. Malala defied them by publicly speaking out, and at age 16 was shot by a Taliban official. She is now 23 and fully recovered. She continues fighting for gender equality.

“I’m working to create a space where it feels easy to include and imagine Black girls and make Black girls like me the main characters of our lives,” said Marley Dias, 16, who is an advocate for representation of people of color in children’s literature.

When she was 11, Marley Dias grew tired by the lack of diversity in the books at her school. She knew she wanted to change that, so she started a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks. Her goal was to gather 1,000 books with black girls as the main character. Since 2015, she has reached her goal and has landed a book deal of her own.

“We cannot solve a crisis without treating it like a crisis. And if solutions within the system are so hard to find, then maybe we should change the system itself,” said Greta Thunberg, 18.

Greta Thunberg is one of the most influential climate activists to date. She is not afraid to call out political leaders for their ignorance towards climate change and has spoken before Congress and the United Nations multiple times. Her climate strike in New York of August 2019 was the largest climate strike in history. She started in 2018, at the age of 15, protesting the Swedish government’s impact on the environment by going on a school strike.

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world,” said Malala Yousafzai.

We don’t have to wait until we’re older to start making the world a better place or educate people about issues that make us passionate. We have the power to start now.