Today is a national holiday that celebrates the potential of girls in different cultures and highlights the obstacles, threats, discrimination and issues many girls face. Girls deserve better education, protection from sexual assault and child marriage, better access to resources…a better future. The United Nations created this holiday to voice these issues and empower girls worldwide. Today is Day of the Girl!
What better day than today to celebrate young women activists that are fighting for girls' rights. These advocates are giving a voice to every girl facing disadvantages simply because of their gender and are giving them hope of a brighter future. We are featuring four powerful girl activists that are taking a stand against issues their community faces and are doing it in truly inspiring ways.
Sonita was 10 years old when her parents first tried to sell her into marriage. Luckily, this arranged marriage fell through, but when she was 16, her mother once again told her she had to marry a man she did not know. Sonita’s brother needed $7,000 for a dowry, and the family would make $9,000 selling her. “I realized against my brother, I have no value. And they couldn’t understand me,” recalls Sonita.
Sonita’s family was from Afghanistan who fled to Iran because of the war. The arranged marriage would have her return to Afghanistan where her future husband lives. But Sonita refused to go and began protesting child marriages in a unique and completely awesome way, rapping! Every year, 15% of Afghan girls are subject to child marriage and Sonita decided to voice her advocacy by recording her music, which is also illegal for a woman to do without government permission in Iran.
After being offered a full scholarship to study music at Wasatch Academy in Utah, Sonita continues to record her rap music and works as an activist against child marriage from her school in the US.
Check Sonita’s rap…
Jazz was only five years old when she came out as transgender and at the age of seven, she began transitioning in front of the public eye. Jazz has since been dedicated to helping other trans teenagers ”navigate a hostile world during their difficult and confusing adolescences.”
Recently, she wrote an inspirational letter to her 5-year-old self:
Dear 5-Year-Old Jazz,
I know that so many people attempt to cloud the purity of your happiness with their tenacious hatred. I know that your eyes glisten with hope, yet they will still be denied by the intolerance of society. I know that your heart beats with the gratifying rhythm of freedom yet so many others prefer the trepidatious sound of fear or the unrelenting drum of cruelty. However, let that hope in your eyes and the love in your heart continuously be confident that one day everyone will be able to hear that alluring melody of freedom. Continue to smile big and move forward in the direction of progress, for you will see change be brought upon this world—a change that you will help create.
Your 16-Year-Old Self
Jazz provides support and advice to trans teens on her YouTube Channel, has a published memoir, Being Jazz: My Life As A (Transgender) Teen and is also the first trans spokesperson for Clean & Clear!
Amanda is the first ever U.S. youth poet laureate and a sophomore at Harvard. She is only 19 and using her poetry to shine light on issues of race, feminism, oppression, and marginalization. She often says that social justice work is integral to her identify as a writer. Amanda founded a nonprofit, One Pen One Page, when she was 16 years old, to provide creative writing opportunities for underserved youth across the country.
"Poetry exists as a unique tool that can interrogate and communicate issues of inequality and injustice in a manner that is inherently rebellious," Gorman said. "Poetry as an art form in itself cuts against the grain ... Poetry, and art in general, is humankind's creative mechanism for social change. There's a reason tyrants fear the poet."
Amanda has the most amazing energy and delivers her poems with passion. Get ready to get the chills!
Malala was born in Pakistan, and is deeply passionate about education. When the Taliban began having a greater influence in the region, it became dangerous for girls to go to school, but Malala refused to give up her right of an education. At 12 years old, she began writing for a blogs detailing her experiences as a young female student and became a public figure for gender equality. The Taliban felt threatened and when Malala was 15, she was shot in the head by a Taliban member as she rode the bus home from school.
This only made Malala more motivated and determined to advocate the issues with girls’ access to an education. Malala is the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize, she is an author, speaker and founder of the Malala Fund, which works to ensure girls’ access to education, especially in the global south.