‘I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls’. Malala Yousafzai became headline news when, in 2012, a masked gunman shot her in the head on her way from school. Her crime? To speak out on behalf of girls’ right to an education after the Taliban took control of her village in Pakistan.

When she regained consciousness ten days later, she had been flown to Britain and was already a household name. And, after months of medical treatment, Malala knew she faced a crucial and life-changing decision. ‘It was then I knew I had a choice: I could live a quiet life or I could make the most of this new life I had been given,’ she explains. ‘I determined to continue my fight until every girl could go to school. With my father, who has always been my ally and inspiration, I established Malala Fund, a charity dedicated to giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses. In recognition of our work, I received the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014 and became the youngest-ever Nobel laureate.’

On 12 July, the world celebrates #MalalaDay, in recognition of her extraordinary achievements, as well in honour of the rights of children and women across the world. Here, we visit her Instagram page, and round up four other young people doing life-affirming and life-changing work for the greater good.



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Malala’s story is, as we’ve established, known all around the world. Her Instagram feed is an inspiring place in which to get to know the woman behind – and at the forefront of – the activism. We veer between shots of her in Paris, on the brink of asking G7 leaders to double education aid in West Africa, and this knock-out image of Malala gracing the cover of British Vogue. Follow her here.

Greta Thunberg

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Like Malala, Greta Thunberg’s profile is astonishingly high – not least since she is only eighteen. And yet her fame, again like Malala, has not been solicited in the name of egomania; as she says again and again, she’d rather be at school, studying as she ought to be able to do. In 2015, she won an essay competition about climate change. Impassioned, she began to protest in front of the Swedish parliament, until her story captured interest around the world and, aged 16, she addressed a UN climate conference, and thus spearheadeded a worldwide climate strike. Follow her and the cause here.

Boyan Slat

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The founder of The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan Slat started his non-profit organisation when he was just eighteen. Its mission is to do exactly as it says on the tin: to use advanced technologies to rid the ocean of plastic pollution. Now with a team of more than eighty behind him, the social entrepreneur and environmentalist’s life in pursuit of cleaning up 90 per cent of the plastic in the water is documented and can be followed on his Insta account here. Inspiring stuff.

Haile Thomas

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‘Let’s get better, together’ goes the Insta biog of teen activist Haile Thomas, founder of The Happy Org, which aims to ‘redefine youth education and empowerment through intersectional wellness initiatives.’ Head on over there for footage of her distributing boxes of fresh, seasonal produce to the food insecure in temporary housing, as well as for chats with other young people doing amazing, altruistic things. A wonderfully positive place to be. Follow her here.

Amika George

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Amika George is the founder of #FreePeriods, which she started in her bedroom at the age of seventeen. Its aim? To end period poverty, not just in the UK but globally, as well as to eradicate stigma around menstruation. After leading a protest outside Downing Street, she successfully got the UK government to pledge the necessary funds to fight period poverty. But not content to rest at that triumph, the Cambridge undergraduate has since launched a campaign to secure equal access to education for all. Little wonder, then, that TIME Magazine named her as one of the 25 most influential teenagers back in 2018; and nor that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation garlanded her with their Goalkeepers Award. Follow her here.

By Nancy Alsop
July 2021

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