Sonita Alizadeh is a 20 year old rapper from Afghanistan and an activist against forced marriages. She first gained attention from her song “Brides for Sale” which is about daughters being sold into marriages by their families. She grew up under the Taliban and her family had decided to sell her as a bride when she was 10 to earn the family money for their son to buy a wife. The family were convinced not to, after Sonita made a documentary “Daughters for Sale”.
By now you must all of heard of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize winner. She is mainly known for her activism around girls’ education. On 9th October 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Yousafzai in the head as she was on her was home after taking an exam. The bullet went through her head, neck and ended in her shoulder. She survived and continues to campaign for girls education. She has written a book ‘I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban’. The book has since been made in to a movie. See if you can read or watch the movie and be inspired by her strength and courage.
Scientists like Kiara Nirghin are needed now more then ever. This girl hero comes from Johannesburg, South Africa and has loved science since the age of seven. Kiara won the 2016 Global Google Science Fair. Drought in South Africa motivated Kiara to come up with ways to help save food sources. Her project involved developing a water retaining material using orange peels, that could be added to crops. Below watch her explain how it works.
Yusra Mardini is a Syrian swimmer currently living in Berlin, Germany. She, like many other Syrians was desperate to escape the conflict. Herself, her sister and twenty others, set off for Greece on a small boat made for six. The engine failed shortly after leaving Turkey, and Yusra, her sister and two others jumped into the cold water and pushed the boat for three hours until they finally reached the shores of Lesvos. She and the others saved the lives of all on board. She is a hero!
Climate Change is going to need an army of heroes for us to save the planet. Kelsey Juliana is one of those heroes, taking on the US Government. She grew up in Eugene, Oregon and has always had a passion for the environment. From a young age she started writing reports in middle school and taking part in protest marches. She has now filed a federal lawsuit against The United States Government accusing them of “violating their duties” to protect the water, land and atmosphere. Good luck Kelsey! We are cheering you on!
Amandla Stenberg is an 18 year old actor and activist. Amandla means power and strength in Zulu. Called one of the most influential teenagers in America. because of a video Amandla made called “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”, which went down in video viral history with nearly 2 million views. Recent projects include co-directing a series called #BLACKGIRLMAGIC for Teen Vogue. Stenberg identifies as non-binary and as and inter-sectional feminist.
Natasha Maimba and Minahil Sarfraz are our Irish girl heroes. After spending years in Direct provision, they have dedicated themselves to speaking out on the issues for refugees and migrants both at home and abroad. They are UNICEF Ireland Youth Ambassadors, who last September, represented UNICEF at the United Nations General Assembly in New York for the Refugee and Migrant Summit. You can hear more about their story on the podcast linked below.
Louise O’Neill is girl hero of the moment in Ireland. she is an Irish author form Cork who writes about feminist issues and tackles subjects like consent. She has written three books: Only Ever Yours (2014), Asking For It (2015) and I Call Myself A Feminist (2016). She also hosted the RTE2 documentary called Asking For It? Reality Bites, which is based on her second book. If you haven’t already read one of her books or articles, start.
Hope you enjoyed our list of girl heroes, let us know if we have missed one of your favorites. Happy International Women’s day!