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We asked 10 girls — ages 9 to 17 — what they want to change about the world.
Maryam and Nivaal, 16-year-old twin activists in Canada, sum it up best:
Home town: Abuja, Nigeria
Aspirations: TV presenter, because it creates an “opportunity to discuss issues and to interview a lot of great people”
Hobbies: Singing, dancing and playing with her younger brother
In her words: Passionate about education for all girls, Peace has written about her campaign, “All Girls Must Go to School,” for the Malala Fund.
“I want to be able to bring the attention of the whole world to my community, my country and to the plight of young girls who could not have access to basic education. I want to be able to help as many as possible go to school. I want the international community to also assist our government to ensure the freedom of all the girls abducted in the northeast of Nigeria.”
Home town: Leonia, N.J.
Hobbies: Singing, playing piano and writing songs
In her words: Nine-year-old Kana, a Girl Scout, is big on being a kind and selfless person. When she’s older, she hopes to “support lots of charities and adopt shelter pets.”
“If I could change one thing, it would be war. I’ve always hated the idea of war. It is basically killing others over some silly argument. It is absolutely not worth it. … I like the quote from the book ‘Wonder’ by R.J. Palacio: ‘When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.’ ”
Home town: Whitby, Ontario
Aspirations: “We’re at the stage in our life when our career plans change on a daily basis, from becoming physicists or starting our own company to becoming the first dual prime ministers of Canada or Pakistan.”
Hobbies: Traveling and experiencing different cultures
In their words: Twin activists Maryam and Nivaal have been committed to working for women and girls’ empowerment since they were 8, when they first learned that girls from their Pakistani village were going to drop out of school. The talented communicators and media-savvy teens share their message of hope and love on YouTube, with a channel called The World With MNR.
“If we could change anything about the world, we would make its people more empathetic. We believe that the people who contribute to the issues that exist in the world lack empathy. If people were more empathetic toward all aspects of their lives, we would be able to eliminate problems like climate change (if people were empathetic to the environment) or prejudice (if people were empathetic to everyone not considering factors like race, gender or religion) among others.”
Home town: Carthage, Mo.
Aspirations: Makeup artist, aesthetician and motivational speaker
Hobbies: Meeting people, making friends, watching baseball and painting
In her words: Paralympic hopeful Haven is a swimmer who’s training to qualify for the 2020 Games. “Life is good!” she says. “Choose to be happy and don’t be a victim!”
“I wish people were not so easily offended. I read through social media and it seems like people are just looking for something to be mad about without giving the understanding and forgiveness we would want for ourselves. My sister has a blog. Last week she wrote, ‘Just because we have freedom of speech doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost us something!’ ”
Home town: Oakton, Va.
Aspirations: Become an engineer like Mary Jackson and work for NASA
Hobbies: Hiking and being outdoors
In her words: Nicole is a Junior, and she wants to be “adventurous and positive” when she’s older. “I hope I will have time to travel and volunteer in my community,” she says.
“I wish we could find a cure for cancer, because my second-grade teacher recently died of endocrine cancer. Our Girl Scout troop also supports Dig Pink volleyball to raise money for breast cancer research.”
Home town: Aurora, Colo.
Aspirations: High school choir teacher
Hobbies: Hanging out with best friends and family
In her words: Makenna loves singing, and she says her joy and happiness come from being surrounded by her best friends and family.
“My Girl Scout troop and I changed our city by creating an ordinance to make it illegal to smoke in a car while a minor is present. We did this because we wanted to keep kids safe from the harmful smoke chemicals, especially inside a car, and to be the voice for those too young to have a voice.”
Home town: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Aspirations: Study history or journalism
Hobbies: Music and art
In her words: Fifteen-year-old Luiza wants to follow in her parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps, because they are “honest, fair and good people.” It’s important for her to be “the kind of person who fights for what [she] believes.”
“If I could change anything in the world, I would end the machismo culture. Boys and girls would have the same rights in everything. School, home and work: Everything would be equal.”
Home town: Johns Creek, Ga.
Aspirations: Photographer for National Geographic
Hobbies: Reading and musical theater
In her words: Lea has learned from Girl Scouts that if you speak up, you can make a difference. “Recently, my Girl Scout troop went up to our City Council to ask if our Take Action Project for Earth Hour could be approved,” she says. And it was.
“If I could change anything in the world, I would change world hunger. I don’t think that it’s fair that people around the world are starving, and yet some people have so much food that they can’t even eat all of it.”
Home town: Varanasi, India
Aspirations: Army officer (“In India, girls aren’t often army officers. It’s often boys,” says Rani.)
Hobbies: Sports, history and singing
In her words: Rani is a mentor for younger girls in her community and hopes to inspire other girls to pursue education.
“I would change education for women. A lot of times in India, girls are expected to get married really quickly, so they don’t have the time to really grow and pursue their education and dreams. They’re rushed into marriage.”