Today's worldwide student protests on climate change were sparked by teen girls. We want to celebrate their vision, fortitude, and lift them up as an inspiration.
Elaine Welteroth, former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue, highlights what we believe are the twin reasons that teen girls are behind today's global phenomenon. She says, "I think women are often asked to be one thing or the other and many of us were raised—I know I was raised—thinking you had to choose between being smart or stylish and that binary is so problematic because it doesn’t allow us to be many things, and we all are many things, especially women. We are all so multifaceted." She goes on to say, "I think social media is such an incredible tool for ... expressing your point of view with the world and also connecting with like-minded people. This is the best time to be young and empowered and to have something to say, because you have a platform."
So now you have teen girls rejecting the binaries. Using social media and accessing information, connecting to like-minded people, raising their voices. Drawing on the inspiration of other young women like Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai. Amplifying the solitary climate protests of 15-year-old Greta Thunberg - who, all by herself, has been changing the conversation around politics, protest, and climate. And through that intersection, that groundswell, that expression of their view of the world you end up with a day like today. March 15, 2019 and a day of activism that fanned out across the globe.
According to the Washington Post, "Starting in the South Pacific and moving west with the sun, the protests blanketed grand city centers and humble village squares. Organizers said they were expecting demonstrations in at least 112 countries, in more than 1,700 locations.
The coordinated demonstrations were planned as the largest manifestation to date of the Fridays for Future movement, in which students forgo classes each week in favor of something they have said is more important: pleading for action on an issue that will affect every person on the planet, but young people most of all."
Fridays for Future and the fight against climate change: Brought to you by teen girls everywhere. It is sometimes said that having children is an act of optimism and bravery, clearly both have been passed on to the next generation of young women.
Want more on the work of teenage girls and their efforts to activate a global movement for change? Here are a few great reads:
A movement that began with a single teenager distributing homemade fliers outside the Swedish parliament last summer became a global phenomenon on Friday, as students worldwide skipped school and took to the streets to urgently demand that adults combat the perils of climate change.
When Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old climate activist from Sweden, had the chance to address a global climate change conference this past week, she told officials she had not come there to beg.
“You have ignored us in the past, and you will ignore us again,” she said.
“You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
Thunberg developed her special interest in climate change when she was nine years old and in the third grade. “They were always talking about how we should turn off lights, save water, not throw out food,” she told me. “I asked why and they explained about climate change. And I thought this was very strange. If humans could really change the climate, everyone would be talking about it and people wouldn’t be talking about anything else. But this wasn’t happening.”
The protests are injecting a new urgency into the debate around climate change, and calling attention to a lack of action by governments. They are also a sign of the new political power of young women, especially in Europe. Climate strikes have also been organized by students in Australia, and US organizers are planning to participate in an international day of action on March 15.
The school walkout, called Youth Strike 4 Climate, is planned for more than 40 British towns and cities [on February 15]. Its aim, Taylor, 17, said, is to raise awareness of the threats of climate change. "It has felt like a full-time job on top of school work," she said of balancing final year exam revision with activism. "I don't have time to see my friends as much anymore ... [nor] am I getting much sleep." And Taylor said Friday's event is only a warmup for a worldwide student strike on March 15.