7 Rising Feminists EVERYONE Needs to Know
By 2016, one would think that society would’ve evolved to, at the very least, establish a world order in which gender equality is—oh, I don’t know—actually a thing. So much of a thing, in fact, that it would no longer even be an issue worth discussing. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from reality. And yet, there is a sliver of hope; thankfully, we have women like the below seven feminists who are working for the greater good, who refuse to be silenced, and who have given countless women the courage they need to keep fighting.
1. Malala Yousafzai
Grand acts of bravery need not be limited to the silver screen, and Malala Yousafzai is living proof. The Pakistani teen, who at 16 years old survived a Taliban attack, used the most valuable tool she has—her voice—to advocate for women’s rights. Her BBC Urdu blog, Diary of a Pakistani School Girl, offers a glimpse into the difficulties—and dangers—faced by girls with any sort of ambitions living under the Taliban. And after the harrowing attack, she went on to call for women to be given the same access to education as their male peers, which recently earned her the title of the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
2. Emma Watson
When it comes to feminism, Emma Watson isn’t messing around. Since adding UN Goodwill Ambassador to her stacked resume (which just so happens to include accomplished actress, certified yoga instructor, and Ivy League graduate—girl) back in 2014, the 26-year-old actress launched the HeForShe campaign, which works to end gender inequality by calling on men to join the feminist movement. Because—surprise!—gender equality isn’t just an issue for those of us that have vaginas.
3. Amandla Stenberg
While you might remember her as Rue in The Hunger Games, Amandla Stenberg is so much more than her IMDB filmography. Eloquent and intelligent, she’s spoken out on important issues ranging from feminism to cultural appropriation, and has been gaining serious traction on the activism scene. Dazed described her as “one of the most incendiary voices of her generation,” and Oprah Winfrey invited her to speak about feminism, social media’s role in activism, and learning to be comfortable in your own skin at UCLA this past April. Stenberg might only be 17, but she is well versed in feminism and its relationship to the Black Lives Matter movement, in addition to the importance of transcending gender binary.
4. Rowan Blanchard
Girl Meets World probably isn’t on your must-watch list—unless you’re suffering from a serious case of nostalgia, and even then, we can’t judge (we deal with ours with one too many ’80s-era Heart ballads). But the sitcom’s star, Rowan Blanchard, is one girl worth paying attention to. At only 14, she’s already a bona fide feminist—and the girl knows her shit. Back in 2015, she delivered a moving speech about youth gender inequality and stereotypes at We Day, an event that celebrates youth making a difference in local and global communities. She is an advocate of Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign, using social media to inspire young women to share their own experiences with gender inequality. And she’s even spoken about gender equality issues at a United Nations conference—a pretty big deal for someone who isn’t even old enough to drive. More recently she made an appearance during Opening Ceremony’s political SS17 show alongside prominent female comedians and actresses like Aidy Bryant, Ali Wong, and Whoopi Goldberg, during which she discussed feminism, mansplaining, and urged the audience to get out and vote.
5. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
If you STILL haven’t listened to Adichie’s TED talk, “We Should All Be Feminists,” go do that right now. And no, turning on Beyocé’s “Flawless,” which features samples the 38-year-old novelist, doesn’t count (although feel free to listen to this afterwards). Adichie asks the tough questions, like do why we teach women to be silent, obedient, and oblivious of their self-worth? And in doing so, highlights the absurdity of it all and the need for inclusion, equality, and education.
6. Rupi Kaur
Feminist poet and author of Milk and Honey—a collection of poetry and prose about survival—Rupi Kaur approaches feminism by highlighting real and raw experiences such as those concerning violence, abuse, love, and loss. Through her work and authentic voice, she challenges societal taboos surrounding menstruation and encourages girls to recognize their strengths.
7. Kiran Gandhi
Fierce doesn’t even cover it. Often seen sporting the phrase “The Future Is Female,” musician and activist Kiran Gandhi is mad vocal about the feminist cause, stigmas surrounding menstruation, and rape culture. She has worked tirelessly with menstrual health organizations to provide women with access to safe and affordable menstrual care, and recently headlined a Fuck Rape Culture event, which called for the judge of the Brock Turner rape case to step down, and in which she performed excerpts from Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist (which everyone should read—it’s game-changing).
Images via Forbes, Pinterest, Odyssey, Wonderland, and Hello Giggles. Kiran Gandhi photo by Alex Lee.
Stay tuned to Milk for more fierce feminists.