Five young women leaders of change

They share their stories ahead of the Generation Equality Forum
Five young women leaders of change

Ahead of the Generation Equality Forum that will take place in Paris from 30 June to 2 July 2021, UN Women celebrated the #ActForEqual Week of Action, showcasing young female leaders and their activism. 

According to the United Nations, women are far from having an equal voice to men, despite the progress made during the last two decades regarding education, early marriage, childbearing and maternal mortality. The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted efforts to achieve gender equality and threatens to “reverse hard-won gains.”

The Generation Equality Forum aims to catalyze global change and progress on gender equality, and encourage bold global commitments and investments in women’s and girls’ rights. It is a civil-society centered, global gathering for gender equality convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, in partnership with youth and civil society organisations.

During the #ActForEqual Week of Action, UN Women has shared the stories and perspectives of five young women from around the world who are leaders and changemakers. What they say is truly inspiring.

Five women leaders of change

Lana Ghneim, Jordan

I’ve seen inequality through my own eyes. I saw differences in the way families would treat their daughters versus their sons. I heard people say, ‘You’re a girl. You can’t do that.’ I saw women leaving their education because they got married, or were forced into marriage, and I felt that it was wrong,” says Lana Ghneim, 23, from Jordan.

Lana started volunteering with international organizations and movements, like UN Women’s HeForShe, and realized how important it was to her to have a positive impact on the lives of those around her, especially youth.

“It’s important to begin teaching gender equality to younger generations through education and media campaigns. People need to be exposed to these messages regularly; normalizing gender equality is one of the most important issues in Jordan,” Lana says. “If we don’t push for change now, future generations will face the same challenges.”

Majandra Rodriguez Acha, Peru

For Majandra Rodriguez Acha from Peru, a key part of both feminism and climate action is recognizing the intersections of inequality and discrimination, and using our voice and power to improve life for all.

“I recognize that those who are most impacted by gender-based violence and by gender inequalities, are also the most impoverished and marginalized – black and brown women, indigenous women, women in rural areas, young girls, girls living with disabilities, trans youth and gender non-conforming youth,” says Majandra. “That is not okay and it’s not what anyone deserves. We deserve better. We can do better.”

Majandra, a member of UN Women’s Beijing+25 Youth Task Force, works to empower youth, especially those from marginalized or underrepresented groups, to be leaders in the climate justice movement.

Munnira Katongole, South Africa

Munnira Katongole describes herself as an unapologetic, radical Black feminist. She is only 17. Sick of seeing girls and women suffer, she advocates for including the voices of girls and young women at the centre of all decision-making, especially in social justice and climate change movements. “Seeing young girls suffer and even die, completely unnecessarily, fuels my activism,” she says.

“The world as we know was built on the backs of women of color and continues to be vivified by young women of colour. We are not asking to be listened to, we are not owed favours, we WILL have our rightful and due seats at the table,” Munnira says. “Young women of colour are the experts of their reality. We don’t need your aid; we need your accountable solidarity.”

Navya Naveli Nanda, India

Being inspired by the progress made towards ending period poverty in other countries, Navya Naveli Nanda, 23, co-founded a start-up that creates scientifically-backed health care products for women in India, and spreads awareness about women’s health topics that are often stigmatized in her country. 

“I remember hearing about Scotland becoming the first country to make period products free,” Navya says. “I want to make that also possible in my country, where every day, women are struggling to access menstrual hygiene products and health care. I want to see this achieved in my lifetime, that’s why I started out so young. We are responsible for building the world we want to live in.”

Now, Navya works to improve not only access to menstrual hygiene products, but to spread education and end the taboo that leads to harmful customs.

Ajna Jusic, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ajna Jusic, 26, was born out of rape during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After coming across a detailed account of what had happened to her mother in a research text, Ajna committed to connecting with others who shared her experience and advocating for her mother’s rights.

As the President of the Forgotten Children of War Association, she works towards the recognition of herself and other children of war-time rape as a vulnerable group in order to improve their access to healthcare, psychological and legal support and education grants.

“We do not want to be invisible; we want to be treated equally,” Ajna says.

About the Generation Equality Forum

The Generation Equality Forum kicked off in Mexico City from 29 to 31 March and will culminate in Paris from 30 June to 2 July 2021, launching a series of concrete, ambitious and transformative actions to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality.

Registration for the Generation Equality Forum in Paris is open until Sunday, 27 June at midnight Paris time (CEST). You can register HERE.

 

Source: UN Women

 

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