This week, the Institute of Leadership and Management held its annual International Leadership Week, celebrating great leaders across the globe and recognizing the magnitude of impact they have had on our society. With the week themed around "Leadership Reinvented," it would be impossible not to realize the impact that young leaders and activists have had on reshaping the face of leadership in the last decade.
Too often, young people get a bad wrap. They're lazy, they're self-absorbed, they're snowflakes. Time magazine has even labelled millennials and gen-Z's as "Generation ME ME ME" due to their supposed vapid and social media-obsessed ways. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
Today, it is clear that the younger generations have taken the reins of leadership. From tackling the climate crisis to helping end poverty, young people's voices are at the forefront of activism and political discussions. They are leading social change and creating a better future for themselves and those around them.
5 Inspirational Young Leaders.
1. Greta Thunberg, 18
Greta Thunberg is a Swedish Climate Activist. She is known globally for challenging world leaders for their actions (or lack thereof) regarding the climate crisis. Her leadership journey started in 2018 when she decided to strike from school one Friday, protesting alone in front of the Swedish Parliament to call for a stronger response to climate change. Nowadays, her protests are a bit bigger. Her 2021 Fridays for Future march in Glasgow attracted 100,000 people protesting world leaders' responses to climate change during the COP26 conference.
2. Jazz Jennings, 21
Jazz Jennings is a prominent LGBTQ+ rights activist and YouTube personality. Jazz rose to prominence after becoming one of the youngest documented people to identify as transgender. Consistently using her voice and platform to stand up for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, Jazz is currently both the honorary co-founder of the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation and founder of the LGBTQ+ non-profit Purple Rainbow Tails.
3. Marcus Rashford, 24
Marcus Rashford may have risen to fame for his talent on the football pitch, becoming the youngest England player to play and score during a match in the 2016 Euros. But it's Marcus' work off the pitch that has shone a light on his outstanding leadership skills. He is an active campaigner against racism, homelessness, and child hunger across the UK. During lockdown, Marcus' activism and philanthropy sparked mainstream interest after he penned an open letter to the UK government asking them to put an end to child food poverty. His efforts not only changed government policies surrounding free school meals but galvanized a wealth of UK businesses to work together and ensure no child went hungry.
4. Thandiwe Abdullah, 17
Thandiwe Abdullah has been an activist since before she can remember. Literally. She attended her first protest when she was just two years old. She co-founded the Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard a movement that helped conceptualize the Black Lives Matter in Schools campaign - which was later adopted by the National Education Association. Her activism has seen the removal of random search procedures in LA Schools and the redistribution of $25 million from overt policing procedures to schools based in LAUSD. Her main goal now is to inspire more young people to understand that the world that we live in right now is not something they have to sit back and accept. We can all make a difference.
5. Amika George, 20
In 2018, Amika George started a petition to end period poverty after reading an article about how many young people missed school or education as a result of stigma around menstruation and not being able to afford sanitary products. The petition gained 200,000 signatures and spurred Amika to form the #FreePeriod movement, pressuring the British Government to emulate the Scottish commitment to providing free sanitary products for students. In 2019, it was announced that schools in England would finally receive funding to provide free sanitary products to lower-income young people. Amika has been honoured in the Times most Influential Teens of 2018 list, The Big Issues Top 100 Changemakers, and most recently with an MBE.
At Street League, we are proud to empower young people to be the leaders of tomorrow. Our programmes utilize the power of sport to engage with young people, build confidence and help them gain the skills and qualifications necessary to move into work. Find out more about our programs here.