The youth are our future, but many believe they do not have the power to make a change or to challenge the injustice going on around them. That is not true. Everyone has the right to protest, the power to fight for justice and make a difference.
Here are five young activists who exercised their right to protest to help make a difference:
1. Anjali Sharma – Australia – Climate
First becoming involved in the climate movement in 2019 as just a 17-year-old girl, Sharma was concerned about the warnings and depleting state of Australia’s climate after having witnessed the impact of climate change in her home country India.
Inspired by the School Strike 4 Climate, also started by young activists, Sharma began to plan and organise protests, speak in front of thousands and led a federal court case against environment minister, Sussan Ley around the detriment of fossil fuels.
Sharma believes there are lots of ways people can exercise their right to protest that do not just involve marching, telling the Sydney Morning Herald;
“There are heaps of avenues people are using to push the government: that includes court cases, volunteering for other NGOs, being involved in election campaigns.”Anjali Sharma to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’
2. Schools Strike for Climate – Global – Climate
Started by one girl in Sweden, Greta Thunberg inspired a worldwide movement by dominating headlines and riling up other young activists across the world in response to the government’s lack of response to the climate crisis.
In 2021, over 500,000 Sydney school students walked out of classrooms striking and protesting on the streets for governments to take action.
A 17-year-old activist at the rally told BBC,
“We’re scared and concerned. We’re doubtful that there might not be a future in store for the generations after us, and even our own generation.”David Soriano, a 17-year-old attending a Sydney rally
The Strike for Climate continues to happen every year as youth fear their future and challenge governments to act now by protesting in solidarity, despite governments’ efforts to suppress the voices.
3. Aretha Brown – Australia – First Nations Rights
Aretha Brown is a First Nation activist that has accomplished so much just as a teenager.
At the age of 16, she delivered a speech at the Invasion Day Rally in Melbourne in 2018 where she spoke about integrating First Nations history education into society. This led her to become the youngest person to become prime minister of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament in Canberra.
At the Melbourne Rally she voiced her agitation toward First Nations’ continual fight for their stories to be told;
“Too long have we set aside peoples’ public holidays over our pain and our history. It’s not right.”Aretha Brown taken from the Daily Mail
4. Amika George – Britain – Women’s Rights
Amika George was appalled by the period poverty that struck the world, especially within her home in the United Kingdom. In April 2017, she set up a campaign called ‘Free Periods’ where she used petitions and demonstrations in front of Parliament to get her message across, challenging the UK government to provide free access to period products.
By January 2020, the Department for Education promised funding for free period products across all English schools replicating some of the other European country’s actions.
George told the Guardian;
“Free Periods was successful…I started my campaign before I could even vote, and I think that’s a testament to the fact that, actually, you can achieve change as somebody who is not represented in politics.”Amika George highlighting the power to make a difference
George has appeared in TIME magazine’s Most Influential Teens of 2018 list and The Big Issue placed her in their Top 100 Changemakers. She has also written a step-by-step guide for aspiring activists named ‘Make it Happen.’
5. Teens 4 Equality – America – the right to protest
Teen activists Zee Thomas, Jade Fuller, Nya Collins, Kennedy Green, Mikayla Smith, and Emma Rose Smith make up the group known as Teens 4 Equality. Zee Thomas at 15 years old saw the protests happening all across America in response to the death of George Floyd and realised that her place Nashville, needed to do the same. She reached out via social media where she met her future team and together with thousands of others, led the largest peaceful protests in response to the death of George Floyd. They highlighted the injustices of systematic racism prompting their government to make a change.
In 2020, Nashville passes state laws that limit the right to protest for activists. Legislatures passed a Bill that forbade people from using chalk on the ground or camping on state property like the Capitol, which was classed as a top-tier crime punishable by 1- 6 years in prison. The Teens 4 Equality went out to protest this as their right to protest was being taken away from them. Many teens expressed their fears that the government was oppressing their voices and ability to challenge the government.
The right to protest must be protected
No matter what age you are, everyone has the power to challenge injustice and make a difference. Everyone has the right to protest and should feel empowered to use it to create change for the better.
A protest is a powerful tool for change. It must be protected. Pledge to protect your right to speak truth to power! Help create a better world where everyone enjoys freedom, justice, and equality.
When courageous people protest, they make the world a better place. We must protect the right to protest wherever it is restricted and whenever it is at risk.
For Write for Rights 2022, we are taking action for brave individuals from 10 different countries, who have all paid a great price for speaking truth to power. We run Write for Rights every year because it works – real change happens when ordinary people come together to take action.
Learn more about Write for Rights. Write a letter, change a life – including yours.