From arts to activism, we’re seeing an increasing number of young women opting to be frontrunners for change. Some are finding their voices through arts, others through activism and personal stories of survival. We’ve rounded up a list of impressive women under the age of 25 who are not only changing the world, but inspiring other young women to make their marks.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala at podium


Malala

Malala Yousafzai is a globally-recognized human rights activist who campaigns for female education. She had an early start to activism at the age of 11 by blogging for the BBC under a pseudonym about life under Taliban rule. Malala rose in prominence for her role in advocating for girls’ education in a region of northwest Pakistan where the Taliban sometimes bans girls from attending school.

At 15, she was targeted by a gunman who fired three shots at her, with one bullet going through her head. The attempted assassination left Malala in a coma, but she remarkably made a recovery.

Malala’s story received worldwide press coverage and an outpouring of support. Her numerous accolades include being the youngest ever recipient of the prestigious Nobel Prize. She is the co-founder of the Malala Fund, which invests in education around the world and empowers girls to amplify their voices.

Learn more by watching He Named Me Malala, on documentary, CBC News Network and CBC this winter. 

Emma Watson

Emma Watson


Emma Watson Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Emma Watson, 25, is a British actress and model best known for her role as Hermoine Granger in the popular Harry Potter movie series. In the last few years, she has widely advocated for women and has sparked an international dialogue about women’s rights.

Emma is a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and helped launched the HeForShe campaign, which engages men in gender equality issues. In her now-famous UN speech in September 2014, she spoke about challenging gender assumptions, being sexualized by the press at a young age and boldly defined feminism as an issue of equal rights. Activist Malala Yousafzai told Emma that after hearing that speech, she decided to call herself a feminist.

Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan


Marina Keegan Photo: publicity photo from her book The Opposite of Loneliness

Marina Keegan (1989- 2012) was an American journalist, writer and playwright. Her play Utility Monster reflected themes of social consciousness often present in her work, as it centered around two teenagers struggling with the concepts of privilege and social responsibility. In her popular essay Even Artichokes Have Doubts, Marina wrote about the high percentages of young graduates entering the finance and consulting fields who would neither be helping people or doing work they’re passionate about.

Marina’s writing includes the following popular quote: “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We can’t, we must not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

Marina accepted a job with The New Yorker but tragically died in a car crash just five days after her graduation from Yale University. A collection of her writings was posthumously published in a book titled The Opposite of Loneliness, which received rave reviews and quickly became a New York Times bestseller.

Rinelle Harper

Rinelle Harper


Rinelle Harper Photo:CBC

Rinelle Harper became a household name under the worst of circumstances. In 2014, the Winnipeg teenager was viciously beaten and left for dead by her attackers. She courageously crawled out of a river, barely alive and made a full recovery.

Her story sparked a national conversation about safety and justice for aboriginal women. According to the RCMP, there are close to 1,200 indigenous women in Canada who have gone missing or been murdered between 1980 and 2012.

Rinelle has been vocal about seeing herself as a voice for change rather than a victim. She has shared her story with audiences including the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly and a crowd of 16,000 people at WE Day in Manitoba.

Shamma Al Mazrui

Shamma Al Mazrui


Shamma Al Mazrui Photo: Emirates News Agency

Shamma Al Mazrui is a Rhodes scholar, Oxford alumnus and rising leader in the Middle East. As a student, Shamma was one of the initiators of the Al-Nahda Institute, which set out to raise awareness about social equity. She has an impressive research background which includes investigating why female unemployment is higher in the Emirates, despite having good access to education.

Shamma was appointed as the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and President of the Youth Council of the United Arab Emirates. At 22 years old, she is the youngest minister in the country. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE made the announcement to his 5.6 million Twitter followers saying: “Youth represents some half of our Arab societies, so it is only logical to give them a voice and role in governing the nation.” We think he’s onto something.