Young women, especially young LGBTQ women and young WOC, are some of the most disenfranchised individuals today. But, despite the war on women, some very brave and powerful young ladies have altered history for the better and risen up to great heights. Here are just a few (all under the age of 20 during their greatest accomplishments).
1. Barbara Johns
Barbara Johns organized a school-wide protest to advocate for equality between segregated schools. Despite the intense and violent threats made against her in a small southern town, she persisted and refused to be silenced for what she believed in.
Her demand for equality also resulted in a legal case that was paired with five other lawsuits in a class action case known popularly as Brown vs. Board of Education.
Feared by the powerful Roman Empire and beloved by her subjects, Cleopatra is one of the most famous rulers of all time, renowned for her impressive intellect. Her people thrived under her pragmatic rule and fierce wartime leadership. Historians like to minimize Cleopatra's accomplishments by focusing simply on her sexual prowess and manipulation of male leaders through her sexuality.
However empowering it may be that Cleopatra literally stopped wars and brought peace to her region by simply batting her eyes at these weak ass Romans, this is only a small part of her legacy. She knew several languages and was known widely for her eloquent speaking and poise.
3. Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc was only a teenager when she unflinchingly confronted Prince Charles of Valois to demand that she be awarded leadership over the French army in their long waged war against England. Joan of Arc drew much attention to herself by claiming to be a saint and cutting her hair in the style of a man. She also dressed in male clothing during wartime.
Whether this was a fashion choice, or just plain common sense considering they didn't make armored corsets and dresses, I don't know.
But, nonetheless, Joan of Arc, possibly one of the very first famous queer individuals of history, led her army to a massive victory. She was later captured by Anglo-Burgundian forces and burned at the stake for witchcraft (because all determined, strong and bold women have to be possessed by the devil).
4. Anne Frank
Anne Frank is perhaps one of the most famous authors of all time. At such a young age she crafted an amazing text that compelled the entire world to listen. She became a martyr, refusing to die in vain at the hands of such perverse racism. Her diary bravely and unflinchingly accounts the atrocities she faced as a young Jewish girl during the rise of Nazism.
5. Malala Yousafzai
Yousafzai is a middle eastern activist promoting education for girls and women. After becoming a writer for BBC as an 11-year-old, she was able to share her story, describing what it was like to live in a region being slowly overtaken by the Taliban. Violent threats against her and her family did not silence the fierce activist.
After being deliberately targeted by the Taliban on her way to school, she was shot in the face and immediately transported to the hospital. She miraculously survived and now speaks out for what she believes in louder than ever. She also happens to be the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
6. Mary Shelley
Shelley invented science fiction at the young age of 19 when she wrote "Frankenstein" or the "Modern Prometheus." She kickstarted the epistolary novel trend and romantic era in American history. Her massive success makes her one of the best selling authors of all time and the founder of a multi-billion dollar industry beloved by millions worldwide.