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It’s Women’s History Month and our daughters (hopefully) will be learning important lessons about the sacrifices and accomplishments made by inspirational women throughout history. While these are hugely important lessons, it’s just as important for our girls to be able to look around the world today and see young female role models who continue to make a positive difference.
Jennifer Lawrence, 23; actor
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Lawrence has been lauded among the acting community for her stellar work in films like Winter’s Bone, The Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. Fans have fallen in love with her for her blunt and awkwardly charming public persona. Lawrence often uses her celebrity platform to speak out against negative body image issues in the media and encourage women to support one another.
In her words: “We see this airbrushed perfect model … but you just have to look past it. … We [need to] stop treating each other like that, stop calling each other fat and stop with these unrealistic expectations for women. It’s disappointing that the media keeps it alive and fuels that fire.” Source.
Tavi Gevinson, 17; editor, actor and feminist
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Gevinson started fashion blog ,The Style Rookie, at age 11. By age 13, the blog’s popularity had earned her a front row seat at New York Fashion Week where she was photographed with the likes of Anna Wintour. In 2011, Gevinson launched Rookie, an online lifestyle magazine for teenage girls. Rookie received one million page views in less than a week of its launch. Gevinson started the magazine as an alternative to the often ridiculous or destructive advice found in most teen media and to provide a platform for ideas from smart, sensitive young women. She has subsequently authored books and had an acting role in the film Enough Said.
In her words: “An alienating misconception about feminism among teenage girls is that in order to be a feminist, they have to live up to a standard of being totally consistent in their beliefs and never being insecure and having doubts...Feminism is not a rule book, but a discussion, a conversation and a process.” Source.
Malala Yousafzai, 16; women’s rights and education activist
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In early 2009, Yousafzai wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC detailing her life as a young female under Taliban rule in Pakistan. She expressed her views on promoting education for girls. The following summer, The New York Timesfilmed adocumentary about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region where she lived. Yousafzai bravely gave interviews to the media in print and on television. On Oct. 9, 2012, Yousafzai was on her school bus when a gunman boarded, asked for Yousafzai by name and shot her three times. Yousafzai survived and rather than step out of the spotlight for fear of continued retribution, Yousafzai has been more outspoken about the need for women’s rights in Pakistan than ever.
In her words: "The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born." Source.
Lorde, 17; singer and songwriter
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The New Zealand native, born Ella Yelich-O'Connor has garnered a reputation for speaking her mind and dominating the pop charts. Often positioned in the media as the anti-Miley Cyrus, Lorde writes songs about empowerment and avoiding excess.
In her words: “I’m a feminist and the theme of [Selena Gomez’] song is, ‘When you’re ready come and get it from me.’ I’m sick of women being portrayed this way.” Source.
Veronica Roth, 25; bestselling author of the Divergent Trilogy
Roth’s first book was published when she was just 23 years old. Since then, her novels for young adults have sold more than five million copies and this month, the film adaptation of Divergent hits big screens across the country. Roth has spoken candidly about her struggles with anxiety disorder and coming to terms with her parent’s divorce as a teen. Roth has said that her battles with anxiety provided inspiration for Divergent.
In her words: “When people reach out to me about very serious things, it is about mental illness. I have been pretty open about my struggles with anxiety and I think it makes [them] feel safe to tell me. People with anxiety problems really latch on to the whole message of, 'Be brave'." Source.
Lena Dunham, 27; actor, writer and director
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Dunham is the creator, writer and star of the HBO series, Girls, a raw comedy-drama about a group of twenty-something women fumbling through careers, bad finances and even worse hook ups in New York City. In addition to her professional and creative accomplishments, Dunham has drawn as much praise as she has criticism for her frequent nudity on the show. Dunham has risen to the status of role model due to her candid comments about Hollywood’s unrealistic body type and the members of her generation who consider feminism an “f” word.
In her own words: “It is really funny how even cool chicks are sort of like, ‘Our moms covered that feminism thing and now we’re living in a post-that world,’ when that just isn’t true.” Source.
Debra Sterling, 30; engineer and founder of GoldieBlox
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Sterling, a Stanford University engineering graduate, is CEO and founder of GoldieBlox, a line of storybooks and toys developed to get young girls excited about science and engineering. She launched the business in 2012 after becoming obsessed with the idea of "disrupting the pink aisle" with toys that could inspire a generation of female engineers. To launch her Goldieblox, Sterling turned to crowdfunding site Kickstarter with the goal of raising $150,000. The campaign raised those funds in just four days and went on to raise a total of $285,000. In a 2013 TED talk, Sterling sited a study that reported only 14 percent of the country’s engineers are women.
In her words: “We are taught from a very young age that we want to become princesses… Just because this is the way things are doesn’t mean this is how they have to be.” Source.