At the height of midterm stress and caffeine shots, take a minute to read about some inspiring young women who are taking the world by storm. These inspirational figures have confidently deviated from the norm in order to make strides in promoting education and political advocacy, and we hope that these stories inspire you to think big on International Women’s Day!
This wouldn’t be a list of powerful women without Malala, who has fought valiantly for her right to education. Malala became a household name around the world when, right after finishing an exam at school, she was shot in the head for speaking out against the Taliban. She was only 15 years old. Malala survived and used her tragic experience as a channel through which she could enact change for young women everywhere. She is now the world’s youngest Nobel Laureate and in her second year at Oxford University, studying politics, philosophy and economics.
Regardless of your political views, you’ve got to admit that Ocasio-Cortez is a powerhouse of a woman. At age 29, Alexandria is the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress! Having grown up in the Bronx of New York City, AOC often embraces her background as a young woman of color from an underserved community and engages the youth in the nationwide political conversation via social media platforms. She graduated cum laude from Boston University, majoring in international relations and economics, and previously served as an educational director in the Northeast Collegiate World Series, as a part of the National Hispanic Institute. Fun fact: Ocasio-Cortez was extremely bright as a child, winning runner-up in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair with her research on antioxidants and their effect on caenorhabditis elegans (or in layman’s terms, a roundworm). The MIT Lincoln Laboratory named an asteroid after her for this accomplishment!
Between her breakthrough role on the hit show “Grown-ish” and double majoring in social studies and African American studies at Harvard University, you would think that 19-year-old Yara Shahidi has her hands full. A month shy of her 18th birthday, however, Yara launched a political initiative called “Eighteen x 18” that was designed to inform young voters about political candidates and encourage them to capitalize on their power at the polls. The initiative also sponsored a summit, called #WeVoteNext to further engage youth in the political scene. When asked about her education, Yara said, “I don’t know everything. I know a fraction of what there is to know and I don’t think I will ever know everything, but it’s important to me to constantly challenge myself, to understanding different viewpoints, really understanding nuance in topics, so I can feel qualified in what I say, so I’m not preaching falsely of what I’m unaware of.” Go Yara!
More likely than not, we all recognize Emma Watson for her role as Hermione Granger from the popular “Harry Potter” series. Beyond the realm of childhood nostalgia and celebrity recognition, however, Emma Watson received a degree in English literature from Brown University and now serves as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and ambassador for Camfed International, promoting education for young women in rural Africa. She has traveled around the world in order to take part in humanitarian projects, and also launched a campaign called #HeForShe in order to destigmatize and educate others on feminism. You may have seen #HeForShe trending on various social media platforms!
You may recognize Karlie Kloss from a myriad of high-fashion runways, from New York Fashion Week to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, but Kloss is also a huge advocate for women in STEM. She founded Kode With Klossy, an organization that teaches girls ages 13 to 18 how to code. The organization has partnered with Teach for America and is well on its way to organizing 2-week coding camps in over 25 cities across the United States. The camp is free for scholars and the application closes April 15, if you know someone who may be interested in applying!
Now, you don’t have to go out and try to save the world in order to make a difference. Start with small things, like getting involved in your community or even just performing a kind act for a stranger. You never know what kind of impact your actions may have until you decide to make something happen. Happy International Women’s Day from the Clog!