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At 22 years old, Malala Yousafzai is one of the most influential women in the world because of her activism for female education. Malala grew up in Pakistan and was given the opportunity to go to school until 2008, when the Taliban took over her town and banned girls from receiving an education. When she was 15, Malala spoke out in protest and got shot in the head by the Taliban. Once she recovered, Malala continued to speak on the rights of education among females and became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
“I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls.” – Malala Yousafzai
Greta Thunberg is not just a teenager, but a prominent voice in the climate change movement. In August 2018, she protested by missing school every Friday to protest in front of the Swedish parliament, beginning the “Friday for Future” movement. By Sept. 20, 2019, millions of students around the world joined the protest, marking it the largest climate change protest in history. On that same day, Thunberg made a speech to the UN Climate Action Summit about their lack of care towards the global warming crisis. She continues to strike and speak out towards the US Congress and the United Nations about taking steps to prevent climate issues.
“People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”” – Greta Thunberg
Ellen Degeneres is a talk show host, writer, comedian and activist. While her talk show is filled with games, dancing and celebrity guests, she also uses it as a platform to raise awareness on over 50 causes, especially the LGBTQ+ community and raising money to help ease natural disasters. Throughout her career, she has donated trillions of dollars to charity. Recently, after the wildfires in Australia, Ellen started a GoFundMe page to raise money for aid and contributed $250,000. In 2016, she gave $25,000 to the survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting. In 2018, she donated $1 million to a high school ruined by Hurricane Harvey. These are only a few examples of her many contributions to charity.
“We’re all supposed to be different. I want so badly to encourage everyone to say, “Who am I and how do I want to live my life?” – Ellen Degeneres
Simone Biles is an American gymnast who has 30 Olympic and World Championship medals. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she won four gold medals and one bronze at the age of 19. She holds the record for the gymnast with the most World medals and was the first American to win a medal in every event of the World Champions. In 2017, she was named the Best Female Athlete at the ESPY Awards. Simone also uses her success to help teach about body-positivity in young girls, teamwork, and the importance of setting goals.
“I was built this way for a reason, so I’m going to use it.” – Simone Biles
Former First Lady, Michelle Obama, is a lawyer and writer who has used her outlet to promote healthier lifestyles and education opportunities, especially among children. Organizations she started include Let’s Move, which helps children become more active; Let Girls Learn, which helps girls to get a higher education; Joining Forces, an organization to help the lifestyle and education of veterans and the families of those serving; and Reach Higher, to promote pursuing an education past high school.
“Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope; never fear.” – Michelle Obama