Updated: Jan 4
There is no greater asset than today's youth when it comes to building our global future. These young South Asian activists are stepping up and taking action for the issues that they believe in. As a South Asian myself, I am proud to honor these young voices who are fighting for a better world.
A 11-year-old climate activist from Manipur, India, Licypriya Kangujam is one of the youngest activists in the world. She started her activism at a very young age of 7, by protesting for climate change laws in front of the Indian Parliament house in 2019. Also, she has addressed world leaders and led climate change awareness movements. In 2022, Licypriya Kangujam founded the Licypriya. Foundation to champion every child in the fight against climate change and to make our planet green again. The foundation will work to support the various activities to take urgent climate action now to save our planet and our future.
A 16-year-old from Pune, India, is known for his marine activism. He designed a ship to clean the oceans, called ERVIS, when he was just 11-years-old. He established the ERVIS Foundation in 2018 to clean plastic waste from oceans.
He has also given several speeches on the topic through platforms like TEDx, to garner media attention and raise awareness.
● The ERVIS intelligent ship which was designed by Haaziq Kazi, to capture waste and clean the oceans.
The ERVIS Foundation is acting as a component in a network of localized, regional efforts to educate communities on the importance of protecting the oceans, and who all believe that local change is the key driver for wider socioeconomic and environmental change ,like himself.
At the age of 14, Ahmad was severely injured during a Taliban attack on his school in Pakistan. The incident led to the deaths of 151 students and teachers. It deeply affected him, and he decided that he would dedicate his life to preventing similar attacks from happening. He believes that this can be achieved by making education accessible to all.Since the lack of education can also feed radicalization. Ahmad firmly believes that the youth is the backbone of society, and must be protected from extremist ideologies. He has henceforth organized a charity to aid young people at risk, help them realize their potential and stop them from engaging with extremist ideologies.
23-year-old Bangladeshi activist, Tahsin Uddin started working on tackling climate change, child rights and violence against women from the young age of 12. He started publishing a monthly newspaper called ‘The Monthly Lal Sabuj’ to highlight these issues and received praise and support from various Bangladeshi activists. He was also selected to represent Bangladesh in the United Nations Youth Summit in 2019. Through this project, Tahsin has been able to train adolescent girls on various subjects such as self-defense, bicycling, child rights, plastic pollution awareness, mental health, and plastic recycling.
Sonita Alizadeh has implemented an unconventional way to fight against the patriarchal notions of forced marriages in her home country Afghanistan; rap! Alizadeh was almost sold into marriage at age 16. She rebelled by releasing a rap video titled “Brides For Sale” encircling the oppression of the women who were being forced into marriage by their families. Attached herewith is the link to Sonita’s remarkable rap song.https://youtu.be/n65w1DU8cGU Sonita Alizadeh is a woman whose creative leadership, forges ahead equal rights for women.The now 26 year old activist and rapper works as an advocate with Girls Not Brides and speaks with global authorities on the issue. The organization impels countries to develop laws, policies and programs that end child marriage.
Kavindya Thennakoon is a Sri Lankan, community development and youth activist who has been affiliated with both Youth Service America and the United Nations Youth Advisory Panel. While growing up in Sri Lanka, Kavindya Thennakoon witnessed first-hand how geography and access to technology created stark contrasts in the lives of people. At age 19, she designed the project “Without Borders” to improve education and prospects for disadvantaged youth, For this, she was awarded with the Harvard Global Trailblazer Award and the inaugural Queen’s Young Leader Award in 2014. Kavindya recently launched 'Tilli', a game-based learning tool that empowers kids to build safer, healthier, and happier lives.
As one of the most well-known young activists on the list, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in history. She became an international symbol of the fight for girls’ education after she was shot for opposing Taliban restrictions on female education in her home country of Pakistan. The Taliban’s attack on 15-year-old Malala received worldwide condemnation. Millions of people signed a right to education petition, and the National Assembly ratified Pakistan's first Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill. In 2013, She founded the Malala Fund to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls' education and to empower girls to demand change. Malala was also designated as a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2017 to help raise awareness of the importance of girl’s education.
On a final note, the inspiring individuals above prove that every effort, big or small counts, regardless of your age and status. It’s never too late to sound your voice and drive for change. If the youth as a whole showed solicitude, courage and enthusiasm, the world would experience a rapid positive change.
As Malala notably stated, “You can bring change in many ways. You don’t have to be a politician to be a change-maker. You can bring change in any role you take in your society, from becoming a doctor, engineer, businessperson, to a politician or to a human rights activist. All of these opportunities give us some ways in which we can contribute to the change we want to see in the world”.