Celebrating Women & Creating a Better Future
As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re looking forward as well as back. Today we’re celebrating young women everywhere who are creating the future. These fearless activists, educators, innovators, and researchers are making history every day.
We’ve got a long way to go in the fight for gender equality, but the young women we’ve met through our partnership with Girl Up give us so many reasons to stay inspired. That’s why we support Girl Up programs by donating 5% of all Girl Up Collection sales. We believe that helping girls reach their full potential is essential to giving us the future we all deserve.
Here are nine brilliant changemakers we’ll expect to see in the history books of the future!
The Serial Inventor
Gitanjali Rao is a 15-year-old scientist and inventor from Lone Tree, Colorado that Time Magazine named “Kid of the Year” in 2020 for her work developing technology to solve problems like contaminated drinking water, opioid addiction and online bullying. Gitanjali has documented her process of innovation in a new book called A Young Innovator’s Guide to STEM. In it she inspires others to follow her process and observe, brainstorm, research, build and communicate. “I recently hit my goal of 30,000 students who I have mentored, which is super exciting,” she told Time. “It’s like creating a community of innovators. I really hope the work that all of these kids are doing identifies innovation as a necessity and not something that’s a choice anymore. I hope I can be a small part of that.”
The Ocean’s Advocate
Melissa Cristina Marquez, 24, has been called the “mother of sharks.” A Latina marine biologist who researches sharks, she was famously bitten by a crocodile during filming on Discovery’s shark week! She is the founder of her own non-profit organization aimed at educating people around the world about sharks and their conservation, called The Fins United Initiative, as well as her own Spanish language podcast, Conciencia Azul, demonstrating her commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in science. Her new middle grade book series Wild Survival follows a girl on adventures around the world with wild and misunderstood animals.
The Equality Entrepreneur
Ina Bhoopalam, a 19-year-old entrepreneur and Harvard student, is the founder of Dream Equal, a nonprofit organization of young activists that works to empower all people to achieve their full potential regardless of gender. “Inspired by my personal experiences and motivated by those around me I founded Dream Equal when I was 16 years old. In doing so, I hoped to combat the gender-based issues I faced growing up. Dream Equal is now a global youth-led organization with members in over 17 states and 3 different countries. Today Ina works with Girl Up to raise awareness of these issues, advocate for change, and support UNHCR and UN Women programs that help increase access to girls’ education.
At only 13 years old, Samaira Mehta is already the founder and CEO Coderbunnyz and Codermindz, two board games that introduce kids to the concepts of computer programming and artificial intelligence. She’s also the creator of the “Yes, One Billion Kids Can Code” initiative, which aims to help one billion children gain access to STEM and coding tools by 2030. Samaira added her voice to UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign and spoke at the United Nations on International Women’s Day in 2020 on closing the STEM gender gap.
Jamie Margolin, 19, is the co-founder with Nadia Nazar of the climate action organization Zero Hour. Zero Hour led the very first Youth Climate March in Washington DC and 25 other cities all around the world during the summer of 2018. Jamie is also a plaintiff on Our Children's Trusts' Youth v. Gov, a lawsuit against the state of Washington for denying her generation's constitutional rights to a livable environment by continuing to make climate change worse. Her book Youth to Power is an essential guide to being a youth activist.
The Change Catalyst
In 2018, Emma González was a high school student in Parkland, Florida when a mass shooter killed 17 people at her school. It was the worst high school shooting in American history. González survived and channeled her grief into passionate advocacy of gun control. With other Parkland survivors, she organized the 2018 March for Our Lives protest in Washington, D.C. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, González grew up in Parkland and served as president of the high school’s gay-straight alliance. Now a college student, Emma Gonzalez continues her activism on Twitter as @Emma4Change with an audience of 1.6 million followers.
The Diversity Activist
Bellen Woodard is only 10 years old, but she’s on a mission for inclusion. She has created her own line of crayons in tones that reflect the wide spectrum of skin colors she sees in the world. The idea came when one of Bellen’s classmates asked her for a “skin color” crayon. Woodard, who was the only Black student in her grade, says she knew the classmate meant the peach-color crayon. When she told her mother what happened, her mother suggested that she pass her classmate a brown crayon instead next time. “But I didn’t want to do that,” Bellen says. “I told her next time I was actually going to ask what color they want because it could be lots of different colors.” Then she got to work making a set of 12 “skin color” crayons. Bellen's More than Peach Project has become a nonprofit organization that creates products to empower students, build awareness, support opportunities in gifted education, and dismantle perception gaps.
The Accessibility Innovator
For Jordan Reeves of Columbia, Missouri, having a limb difference has helped her envision a more accessible world. The 14-year-old designer and activist was born with a left arm that stopped growing beneath her elbow, a physical difference that helped ignite her passion for design. In the past four years, Reeves has created a 3-D-printable prosthesis for kids that shoots out biodegradable sparkles, consulted for companies like Mattel to create toys that affirm limb difference and even co-written a memoir about what she’s learned from growing up with a disability. Her company Born Just Right develops creative solutions to help kids with disabilities lead a more enjoyable life.
Every time you speak up about fairness and equity, break a stereotype, or support girls in following their dreams you help raise awareness and remove barriers that make it more difficult for girls to reach their full potential. Make sure that every girl you know is fearless! We especially appreciate every Girl Up Collection blog post you read, social media post you like and share and every Girl Up Collection jewelry purchase you make that helps to fund our support of Girl Up clubs in your area and around the world. Join us and be a catalyst for progress, understanding, empowerment, and equality. Together we will make history.