A teen took the stage with world leaders and unflinchingly spoke truth to power. YES, GIRL.

Four heads of state interrupted Natasha Mwansa's 4-minute speech to give her a standing ovation.

Watch out world. The young women have arrived, and they're taking the reins.

From Greta Thunberg to Emma Gonzales to Malala Yousafzai, young women are taking the microphone, organizing movements, and demanding the world's attention on major issues. And it appears they are just getting started.

Imagine you're 18 years old, preparing to go to college, and being invited to join a panel in the opening session of a huge international conference. Imagine that panel includes four current heads of state, and you'll be speaking before an audience of thousands of people from around the globe.

Now imagine standing up on that stage and telling those world leaders to their faces, in no uncertain terms, that they need to step up their game. No pussyfooting. No apologies.


Meet the latest young woman shaking the tree and speaking truth to power.

Natasha Wang Mwansa brought the house down with a 4-minute speech at the opening of Women Deliver 2019 on June 3rd.

Mwansa is an 18-year-old from Zambia, whose confidence appears to know no bounds and whose ability to articulate her thoughts without so much as a pause is awe-inspiring. She took the stage in the Vancouver Convention Centre with four world leaders—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, President Sahle-Work Zwede of Ethiopia, and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya—and waited for her turn to speak.

When the time came, she gave the world leaders the what for—not in a disrespectful way, but with a frank and honest assessment of how they need to include young people in their policy decisions.

"One thing that really has to be emphasized," she began, "is that nothing is going to be done for us without us, because that's just doing it against us."

She paused to ask, "Can I stand? I feel more powerful when I stand." Then she stood in her power and wowed everyone. Rarely pausing for a breath, much less an "Um" or an "Uh," Mwansa laid down the hammer in the most eloquent way.

Less than two minutes into her speech, all four heads of state gave her a standing ovation, along with the rest of the crowd.

Mwansa told world leaders that we need more young people in positions of power, that they aren't just going to be helpless beneficiaries anymore. She also pointed out that gender equality and female empowerment can't just be something leaders pay lip service to—it has to be reflected in national priorities and budgets.

Then she really got going.

"I hate that we call these things 'child marriages.' That's pedophilia! It's inhumane!" she said. "These things have to be worked on and they have to be fought. We can't have girls be married off. We can't have girls not accessing education. We can't have girls not being able to take care of themselves every time of the month because of stereotypical behavior. No. We need gender equality and we need it to be reflected in national priorities."

Cheers from the crowd and the panel morphed into a standing ovation at that point. But Mwansa still had more to say. We need to build capacity in young people to empower them to have a say in decisions that affect them, she said. She pointed out that leaders need to be held accountable for their promises, to bridge the gap between what young people want and what governments provide, between what is promised and what is actually done.

"Politicians can talk, guys," she said. "But action? No. We need to hold them accountable."

There's more, but I can't do it justice. Mark my words, this girl will be a head of state herself one day. Just watch, and be prepared to want to stand and cheer yourself.


Natasha Mwansa Q&A during panel discussion of Women Deliver 2019 www.youtube.com

Recommended

Los Angeles is experiencing a homeless epidemic that was years in the making.

Over the past six years, the unhoused population in the city has risen 75 percent. The city's lack of homeless shelters and affordable housing has forced many who can't afford L.A.'s sky-high rents to live on the streets.

According to LAist, since 2000, renter incomes have decreased by 3 percent while rents have gone up 32 percent.

While the city has launched a $100 million-per-year program to help the problem, rapper, entrepreneur, and actor Jaden Smith has found his own way of responding to the crisis: love.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities

Mom and blogger Mary Katherine Backstrom regularly shares snippets of life with her two children on her Facebook page. One particularly touching interaction with her daughter is melting hearts and blowing minds due to the three-year-old's wise words about forgiveness.

Even adults struggle with the concept of forgiveness. Entire books have been written about how and why to forgive those who have wronged us, but many still have a hard time getting it. Who would guess that a preschooler could encapsulate what forgiveness means in a handful of innocent words?

Keep Reading Show less
Family


Social media may be "ruining society" according to a lot of people's grandparents. But it's also a pretty helpful tool for spotting racists and publicly shaming them. Incidentally, a lot of those racists are also people's grandparents... kinda makes you think, hmmm?

Recently, two elderly white ladies were spotted in a Burger King in Central Florida being racist towards a man who they overheard speaking Spanish. That man turned out to be the manager.

Some nearby customers were filming the incident and posted the video online where it's gone viral. "Go back to Mexico," says one of the women. "If you want to keep speaking Spanish, go back to your Mexican country." She then continues: "this is America. Our main language is English. ... Speak your Mexican at home."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

The U.S. women's soccer team won the Women's World Cup, but the victory is marred by the fact that the team is currently fighting for equal pay. In soccer, the game is won by scoring points, but the fight for equal pay isn't as clearly winnable and the playing field isn't as even.

We live in a world where winning the World Cup is easier than winning equal pay, but co-captain Megan Rapinoe says there's one easy way fans can support the team: Go see games.

Some people argue the men's team deserves to get paid more because they are more successful and earn more money for the United States Soccer Federation. Pay depends on merchandise and ticket sales, and in general, men's sporting events tend to draw a bigger crowd than women's sporting events. It's not about sex, many argue; it's about the fact that people just prefer to see men play.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture