Malala has changed the world for the better. These 5 young women are too.

Photo by Odd Andersen​/AFP/Getty Images.​

You've probably heard of Malala Yousafzai.

Yousafzai gained worldwide attention when she survived an assassination attempt from the Taliban in 2012. She was shot in the head and neck while on the school bus in Swat Valley, Pakistan, because she was advocating for girls' rights to an education.


Since then, Yousafzai has made it her life's mission to champion gender equality and human rights. She launched the Malala Fund, a nonprofit that supports girls' education across the world and she's visited refugee camps to show solidarity with displaced young people. Her work earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, making her the youngest person to ever be awarded the prestigious distinction.

In 2013, she gave a compelling speech before the United Nations on July 12, her birthday, calling for global access to education. July 12 thereafter became Malala Day.

Following in Malala's powerful footsteps, here are five other young women working to change the world for the better.

1. Emma González, 18

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

Emma González, 18, used her voice, or lack thereof, to bring awareness to gun violence.

On March 24, at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., González captivated the world when she stood in silence for a portion of her speech. Her time at the podium was just over six minutes — the amount of time it took a gunman to open fire at her high school in Florida and kill 17 of her classmates.

González and her fellow students have spoken at rallies, met with local community members, and have even gone head-to-head with lawmakers demanding actionable change to gun law reform.

2. Mari Copeny, 10

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

You may have heard of Mari Copeny as "Little Miss Flint." The 10-year-old has become one of the leading activists fighting for access to clean water in Flint, Michigan.

When she first heard news that her town's water supply was contaminated, a then-8-year-old Mari wrote a letter to then-President Obama requesting to meet with her and other Flint residents to discuss the water supply. In response, Obama traveled to the city to see the issue firsthand.

Little Miss Flint is still working hard for her community. In the past year, she has raised thousands of dollars to provide Flint students with backpacks for the school year. She has even appeared in a campaign ad endorsing Abdul El-Sayed for governor of Michigan.

3. Yara Shahidi, 18

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for MTV

Yara Shahidi, 18, is all-around #BlackGirlMagic. You may know her as Zoey Johnson from the television shows "Black-ish" and "Grown-ish," but the budding actress has dedicated her platform to advocate for social justice.

Shahidi has been an outspoken advocate for better representation and diversity in Hollywood. She uses her appearance on daytime and late-night television to speak in favor of human rights and racial equality. Most recently, the Iranian-American actress spoke about the harmful consequences President Donald Trump's Muslim ban has on families like hers.

But Shahidi also puts her words into practice. She started Yara's Club, a collaboration with the Young Women's Leadership School, where she gathers high school students to discuss how to bring about social change. She has also worked with Michelle Obama for the former first lady's Let Girls Learn program that emphasizes girls' education.

What's Shahidi up to now? This fall, when she's not acting or leading the resistance, Shahidi will be pursuing an undergraduate degree at Harvard University. She plans on majoring in African-American studies and sociology.

4. Bana Al-Abed, 9

Photo by Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images.

Bana Al-Abed may not be 10 yet, but she has experienced some of the most daunting realities of this world. Al-Abed gained notoriety for using Twitter to show the world the hellish conditions in her community in Aleppo, Syria. From broadcasting airstrikes to describing widespread hunger, Al-Abed gave people an inside look into the nightmare and human strife that comes with war.

Al-Abed and her family managed to flee to Turkey as refugees, but while she may have managed to escape the terrors of war, the experiences still live with her. In October 2017, Al-Abed released a book, "Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace," detailing her accounts of the Syrian Civil War to further spread her message.

5. Janna Jihad, 12

Photo by Janna Jihad/Facebook.

Janna Jihad is among the world's youngest journalists. But for Jihad, who lives in Nabi Saleh of the occupied West Bank, journalism is no easy feat. She uses her mother's iPhone to film videos in Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron, and Jordan, where she documents in English and Arabic the discrimination Palestinians face at checkpoints and Israeli soldiers' abuse toward women and children.

Her work has also made her a target. In April 2018, Israeli authorities detained and interrogated Jihad on her way home on the Jordanian border.

But the 12-year-old is no stranger to scare tactics. She and her family experienced much worse, and violence won't faze her from continuing her journalism career. It's her way to defend her family and the Palestinian people. "My camera is my gun," Janna told told Al Jazeera. "The camera is stronger than the gun [...] I can send my message to small people, and they can send it to others."

These young women may advocate for different causes, but they prove one important message.

It's an understatement to say that these activists are inspiring. Despite hardship and turmoil, these young women were able to find voices within themselves and take a stand.

It proves that it doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, how old you are, or which gender you identify with, if you put your mind to it, anyone can make a difference.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Singer Adele in 2016.


At long last, Adele's name is buzzing around the headlines again.

Anyone who follows the megastar on social media knows the announcement of her new album, "30," has been a bit of a global phenomenon. She was recently on both, yes, BOTH, covers of U.S. and British Vogue, where she gave her first interview in five years.

Her interviews cover a wide range of topics, where she answers questions in her quintessential relatable, slightly sailor-mouthed style we've all come to know and love. And whether she's talking about her divorce, weight loss or accountability as a celebrity, she's giving us a new look at owning your life. For me, those lessons are:


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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!