When we invest in girls, we unleash their potential and help create a stronger generation. Girls who are educated, healthy and informed will grow up to be workers, mothers, and leaders who will improve the lives of their families and entire communities!
Meet 6 inspiring girls who are already making a difference, and who we believe have the potential to become future leaders – empowered women who’ll positively impact the lives of people around them!
[SEE ALSO: Meet one of the “bravest girls in the world”]
1. Mezon: Dubbed the “Malala” of Syrian refugees
This is Mezon, 16. She’s been called the “Malala” of Syrian refugees for going from tent to tent, encouraging girls out of school to continue their education. Malala first met Mezon on a trip to the #Zataari refugee camp in Jordan, and was so inspired by her passion for education that she invited her to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony a few months later. Read Mezon’s incredible story of life as a teenage girl in a refugee camp here: bit.ly/syriamalala
The ongoing conflict in Syria has affected millions of people, driving children and their families from their homes and into neighbouring countries. Mezon, 16, and her family sought safety at a refugee camp in Jordan.
During crises such as the conflict in Syria, adolescent girls are often the most vulnerable to violence and discrimination. The likelihood of dropping out of school increases, as does the risk of child marriage. Mezon, however, is committed to her education and to the education of other refugee children. She goes from tent to tent encouraging children to enroll in the local schools.
Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed – Malala Yousafzai recently visited Mezon and even invited her to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Norway! Mezon has told the Malala Fund that she’s determined to continue championing education: “We [refugee children] have the right to attend school and I feel I have a responsibility towards the community.”
2. Asia: Inspiring “kidpreneur”
Known as the Super Business Girl, 11-year-old Asia Newson is Detroit’s youngest entrepreneur, making and selling her own candles. Beyond her candle business, Asia’s larger mission is to help other children recognize their own potential to become entrepreneurs, or “kidpreneurs” as she likes to call them. Her charisma and ambitiousness landed her on the talk show, Ellen, where she revealed her dream of becoming President of the United States!
3. Estela: Keeping girls in school
In Guatemala, access to high school education is limited. On average, only 42% of adolescent girls and 49% of adolescent boys enroll in high school nationwide, and in rural areas, the rate is much lower. Girls are often forced to drop out to work and support their families, or to marry early.
Determined to break this cycle, 16-year-old Estela overcame cultural gender norms and continued her education with Plan’s support. She even became a member of the school government! As one of only two female students in her high school class, Estela started to encourage other families in her community to send their daughters to school. After her campaign for girls’ education, 15 more girls enrolled!
“I think that it is very important to study to have a better future,” shared Estela. And now thanks to her, even more girls will complete their education and look forward to a better and brighter future!
4. Sruti: Advocating research
At 16, Sruti was named one of Plan Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 because of her incredible contribution to the environmental research community, as well as her advocacy for youth involvement in the sciences. Sruti’s work has been recognized nationally and internationally, but her primary passion is to inspire other young people to meaningfully impact their communities through research.
5. Rosie: Challenging stigmas
At the age of 9, Rosie was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and with two younger autistic siblings, Rosie’s proud to share her story and experiences with autism. Whether she’s hosting the BBC program, My Autism and Me, or speaking at TED conferences, she’s committed to making the world a more welcoming place for children and families affected by this condition.
By posing the bold question, “Why is everyone so worried about being normal?”, Rosie is slowly changing mindsets, helping others understand what it’s like to live with autism, and proving along the way, the power of human diversity!
6. Maya: Championing “talent diversity”
Scientist. Entrepreneur. Environmentalist. TEDx Speaker. Top 20 Under 20 alumna. These are just five of the many titles you could use to describe 15-year-old Maya. While her passion and excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics has gained her wide recognition, she’s a strong advocate for “talent diversity” – encouraging young people to avoid becoming overly specialized in their skills and talents. She believes that people perform their best when they open their minds to a wide range of interests, rather than micro-specializing. In her TED Talk, she enthusiastically encourages youth to be “generalists” because according to her, “being a generalist is just plain fun!”
When girls are given the opportunity to learn, gain skills and speak out, they can create a brighter future for everyone around them – like these 6 young women did! Help create this opportunity for girls around the world by giving Plan Canada’s girl power Gift of Hope!