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Activist Teen Girls United



Girl Up Leadership Summit went virtual

teens, girls, activism, thriving, families

Activist teen girls have been thriving during the pandemic and accompanying quarantines, adapting their sense of mission and involvement to include health issues as well as helping their communities find ways to get beyond systemic racism. They’ve even been experimenting with no-phone detoxification programs.

In a recent story, NPR’s Nadia Whitehead spoke to 11 girl activists during the (virtual) 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit sponsored by the United Nations for young females to advocate for the health, safety and education of girls and women around the world.

Many of the teens said that the pandemic has worsened the problems against which they are passionately fighting. But that has only made them more determined to speak up. And find ways of creating new forms of activism.


Among the young women spoken to was the co-founder of a Minneapolis non-profit that offers free tutoring and mentoring for low-income students; a 16 year-old with Indian background who has faced growing xenophobia from community members who believe all Asians are to blame for Coronavirus; volunteers for the Save the Children Action Network; and advocates for gun violence prevention and safety in vulnerable neighborhoods. They spoke from all over the world.

"I am a Muslim Arab girl living in the Middle East. There's lots of stereotypes and misconceptions about Arab women,” said one teen, who has also started her own non-profit. “Lots of people think we are all oppressed, and this undermines the achievements of Arab women. I want to show Arab girls that you can do something and be whoever you want.”

Other subjects raised included the rise in violence against women once lockdowns started, and a sense of need that teens and their parents urge elected officials to address issues critical to children's lives, including racism.

Yet there were also upbeat appraisals of new social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, an appreciation for spending more time at home with one’s parents, cooking, and binging television. Fave shows? How about The Politician and Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act.

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