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Young Activists Who Are Changing The World

The real social change initiators don’t seem to be the politicians. They’re not the multi-million dollar company donors either. They’re the regular folks facing discrimination and dangerous social realities every day.

The people making real amendments tend to be the ones whose lives rely upon those amendments; they can’t afford to be apathetic. They’re the voters, marginalised communities, and often, youngsters. This group of young leaders has stood up to fight against harsh realities and bring about a radical change in society. They’re raising awareness about important social justice issues and speaking up for the marginalised.

Some of the young inspiring leaders from across the globe are:

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a brave young woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize in Oct 2014. Throughout her life, Yousafzai has advocated for education and women’s right. Yousafzai was born in 1997, in Pakistan, in a very conservative family. Malala is the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of seventeen. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012, but she survived.

She shared her experience of living below the Taliban in northeast Pakistan through radio, TV interviews, and blogs. At Harvard University in London, Malala has made several public appearances since the shooting. On her sixteenth birthday, she gave a speech at United Nations about the importance of education for all. The day of her speech was pronounced as ‘Malala Day’.

Her memoir, ‘I Am Malala’, was published in October 2013, and it was also made into a documentary – ‘He Named Me Malala’ which was released in 2015. She has also opened a college for Syrian women refugees in Pakistan, funded by the Malala Fund.

Darius Weems

“Darius Goes West: The Roll of his Life” is a documentary by Logan Richard E. Smalley on Darius Weems life. The film revolves around Darius Weems, a young adult living with the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Because of his condition; he never left his hometown of Athens Georgia. In the middle of 2005, with the assistance of his 11 young friends, 15-year-old Darius kicked off a 7000 miles road trip across the United States from his town to MTV headquarters in Los Angeles to ask Pimp My Ride to customise his wheelchair.

His aim was to spread awareness about the fatal illness and to raise money for research into a cure. Darius turned twenty-three on September 27, 2012, and recently launched his rap career. Darius wrote a rap as a tribute to his fans. In honour of his late brother Mario who also died due to DMD at the age of 19, Darius released his first album, “My Life In This Chair” on February 16 on his brother’s birthday.

Darius asked North America to be considerate about people like him and emphasised that the journey is as vital as the destination. In 2016, he lost his battle to DMD at the age of 27.

Madison Kimrey

Madison Kimrey is a 17 year old young political activist from North Carolina. She focuses on youth involvement in politics, women’s rights and the humane treatment of animals. Her activism started at the age of twelve when she started participating in protests and starting her own petitions to initiate change.

She started her blog about politics “Functional Human Being”. This is a collection of personal insights/opinion on political issues along with occasional music videos.

In her state, she has also started a youth organisation advocating the reintroduction of a voter pre-registration bill   for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Emma Watson

Emma Watson was born on April 15 1990, in Paris. When Watson was five her parents divorced, and she moved back to England with her mother and brother.  At Oxford, Watson attended the Stagecoach Theatre Arts School. She studied music and acting at Theatre Arts, a part-time theatre faculty. At the age of ten, she performed and took the lead in numerous Stagecoach productions.

Emma became a well-known actress in the world after the Harry Potter series. Watson auditioned eight times at the age of nine, for the role that made her a global star.

Watson has become a role model for young women all over the world. Currently, she saw however necessary it absolutely was to fret girls’ intelligence in society. The actress was taking huge steps in her career outside of the acting world at the age of eighteen.

Emma is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations conjointly, promoting gender equality. In May 2014, Emma completed her graduation from Brown University.

Liza Yaroshenko

She is one of the youngest campaigners for tolerance and understanding of HIV, as well as affordable treatment options. At the ago of six she lost her mother to Aids.

She carries the HIV virus but she has not not let the illness take control of her life. In her early teens she started campaigning to spread awareness about HIV, which has been an epidemic in her native country. She also addressed the Ukrainian Parliament, at the age of 13 to voice her concerns on the lack of affordable drugs for people suffering from HIV.

In spite of Liza’s protest, the budget passed by the Ukrainian parliament, provided only a fraction of the money required to fight HIV and AIDS. But Liza continues her fight with the help of alternative organisations.


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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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