The new revolutionaries…
Malala Yousafzai once said, ‘I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.’ The positive manifesto in 2017? Our voices will be heard.
Millions of protesters took part in the Women’s March across the United States and around the globe in January after Trump’s election.The overriding message designers spread this Fashion Month? The Future is Female.
So, to celebrate International Women’s Day today, meet the next generation of female activists; from supermodels and teen Hollywood actors to YouTubers and political rappers…
You may have spotted this Brit model on every major catwalk this season. But the 24-year-old runway star is making strides to empower young women too, and has become part of a new guard of ‘fashion activists’ on the internet. In 2015 she launched a female-focused web hub Gurls Talk (with 72k Instagram followers and growing) - a platform where girls can openly share their experiences on mental health, body image and sexuality in a trusting environment. ‘With Gurls Talk I want to create a space wherein girls can have honest conversations about everything,’ she tells Teen Vogue. ‘But instead of it being a lecture coming from a teacher or a woman twice their age, I want it to be from women these girls can relate to - women who are speaking from experience.’
The Gen-Z actress, NYU student and youth activist examples how social media is so much more than just meme culture. With 1 million Instagram followers, the Hunger Games star has used her platform to speak up on everything from race and representation in film to gender and sexuality. ‘I’ve always been passionate about social justice and creating representation for people who are under-represented,’ Amandla tells Asos. ‘[But] the internet has made it possible to synthesize ideas into things that are shareable for people who don’t want to read [author and feminist] Bell Hooks.’
19-year Sonita Alizadeh is an Afghan rapper and activist who has been vocal against forced marriages, after her mother tried to sell her for £6,000 when she was sixteen. Alizadeh first gained attention when she released ‘Brides for Sale,’ in 2014 [it’s been viewed over 750,000 times] in which she raps about daughters being sold into marriage by their families. Since moving to the US, she’s since performed at the Women in the World festival, has been the focus of an award-winning documentary Sonita, and one day dreams of becoming a lawyer.
Cameron Russell (right) is on a mission to combat climate change
Type ‘Cameron Russell’ into Google and one of the first hits is her TED talk ‘Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.’ It’s been viewed over 15 million times. While the 29-year-old has walked the runway for fashion heavyweights from Victoria’s Secret to Chanel - the Columbia university grad and long-standing proponent of clean energy has used her platform to raise awareness about climate change. In 2015 she even spearheaded a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to spread the message - enlisting the help of her model army, including Bella Hadid and Stella Maxwell.
Historically speaking, Disney stars haven’t been known for their youth activism and essays on intersectional feminism. Enter: Rowan Blanchard. In 2015, at just 13-years-old the Girl Meets World actress spoke at the UN Women U.S. National Committee Annual Conference about gender equality. And in January she addressed a 75,000 strong crowd at the Women’s March in LA: ‘I believe in the ineffable power of community,’ Rowan said. ‘If women, if queer people, if people of color have survived this long in a world that refuses to represent them, that must amount to a force much greater than one man with nothing more to invest in but his ego.’ Hear, hear!
Meet the 25-year-old YouTube sensation, author and sex positive activist on a mission to ‘get real’ about conversations around sex, body image and sexuality. Vlogs on her channel, including ‘What is lesbian sex?’ to ‘Chatting birth control with my mum’ , can accrue over an impressive 100k views a post. Her debut book ‘Doing It’ hits shelves this April - an educational handbook for young people exploring everything from losing your virginity to consent.
Hannah will be speaking on the panel "You Grow Girl! What they don't teach you in Sex Ed" on Sunday 12 March at WOW festival
A human rights activist and social justice campaigner, Amal is well known as one of the ‘Glasgow Girls’ - a group of seven school girls from Drumchapel High School who campaigned to stand up against dawn raids, detention and deportation of asylum seekers in Glasgow. The GGs story has since been turned into two BBC documentaries, a stage musical and a television musical drama. You can also catch her speaking at the Young Women's Rally as part of the WOW festival on March 11th.
Think all teenagers are interested in 2017 is 95% hashtags and telly, 5% gender issues? Think again. Edie, a student at the Camden School for Girls in London, is currently campaigning for feminism to be on the PSHE curriculum in all schools (a campaign which she started at the age of 14 last year). She will also be delivering a short talk about her experience with this campaign as part of Southbank Centre’s WOW - Women of the World festival, which runs until until March 12th.