The next generation of Australian youth activists are set to become bold change-makers, in an exciting program designed to amplify girls’ and young women’s voices on the things that really matter.
Ahead of International Women’s Day 2020 (Sunday), the charity for girls’ equality, Plan International Australia and The Body Shop are launching this year’s Youth Activist Series (YAS).
Nine extraordinary Australian young women from Melbourne and Sydney aged between 15 and 24 have been hand-picked as this year’s YAS leaders: an incredible group committed to creating long-lasting social change and fighting for equality, human rights and the environment.
As a brand that has always championed female empowerment, and with activism at its core, The Body Shop will this year support the annual YAS program — which began in 2017 — by donating $120,000 to fund the 2020 program and empower young people who are campaigning for equality.
The youth activists will learn essential activism and leadership skills and get involved in advocacy and campaigning, media and public speaking, and collective action to fight for equality.
“I am super excited to be a part of the YAS program because it is a chance for me to work alongside a fierce community of advocates, to address the power imbalances faced by girls and young women globally and creatively contribute to political conversations where we are often overlooked,” said new YAS activist Angelica.
“Not only am I an advocate for gender equality overall, I am particularly passionate about gender-based violence, youth mental health, education inequalities and female leadership empowerment.
“Girls and women are grossly underrepresented in leadership positions across this country — but what’s even worse is that specific intersections such as girls and women of colour and girls and women with disabilities are even more isolated.
“Without significant female representation in leadership across Australia, we are overtly ignoring a large portion of our community and allowing these social issues that affect girls disproportionately to be left unaddressed,” she said.
Angelica’s passion for change resonates with recent Plan International research, which found that 91% of girls and young women in Australia are overwhelmingly eager to lead change on the biggest social issues facing their time, from the climate crisis to poverty and inequality around the world to gender based violence and street harassment here at home.
Plan International’s She Has a Plan survey of 1461 young women and girls aged 12 to 25 found:
“These extraordinary youth activists may be young, but they have an unwavering passion for gender justice and equality,” Susanne Legena, CEO of Plan International Australia, said. “We know they will immerse themselves fully in the program and come out the other side with incredible skills, lifelong friendships, confidence and networks to take their activism to the next level and become the change-makers our world so sorely needs right now.
“It’s fitting that this year’s International Women’s Day theme is Generation Equality. An educated, empowered girl is a force to be reckoned with. Just look at the influence Greta Thunberg has had on the world in such a short time. The potential and capacity of young women to lead the change is remarkable and we’re so proud to team up with The Body Shop to support these inspiring young people to pursue their passions.”
Shannon Chrisp, Marketing and Corporate Responsibility Director for The Body Shop Australia said: “The Body Shop is a certified B-Corporation that believes in using our business platform as a force for good. We are also a feminist brand – founded by a woman and with women at the heart of our business – that advocates for equality across all genders. That’s why it makes so much sense that we’re teaming up with Plan International Australia to support these incredible girls in becoming the leaders of the future. We share strong values around empowering young women and together, we believe in a world where girls can stand up, stand strong and lead amazing change.”
From March 17, 2020, $5 from every purchase of The Body Shop’s Shea Nourishing Body Lotion goes directly to Plan International Australia’s Youth Activist Series, to empower young people who are campaigning for equality.
The Body Shop’s Shea Nourishing Body Lotion is enriched with Community Trade shea butter from Ghana, handcrafted by women who have used shea butter to itensely nourish dry skin for generations.
The Body Shop is committed to supporting our future activists, leaders and change makers and will donate a total of $120,000 to Plan International Australia’s Youth Activist Series.
Maya is a Syrian-Australian student and podcaster from Melbourne, passionate about refugee rights and empowering youth voices in government decisions. Alongside her twin sister Sarah, she produced a podcast with Student Youth Network Media called ‘Refugees on Air’, which aimed to fight negative stereotypes and share refugee stories of courage. Maya was heavily involved in her school’s leadership team, the UN Youth Victoria, and in the YMCA Victorian Youth Parliament, where she helped pass a bill allowing free sanitary products in government buildings.
Madhuraa or Mads, as she is commonly called, is a proud intersectional feminist. She lives in Sydney and is currently undertaking a combined Bachelor of Law and Arts, majoring in International Relations, and when she’s not overloading her Instagram story with social justice content, she’s probably making sure her friends and family are drinking enough water. Mads is excited to be working with Plan International this year to create real change. She’s keen to give a voice to queer youth of colour, advocate for children’s mental health and work against gender-based violence.
Tino is a young Zimbabwean-Australia activist from Melbourne that believes in a better world for young women and girls. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Engineering with a major in Biomedical Engineering. She’s passionate about issues involving child marriage, financial independence for women and safer childbirth. She’s excited to see how her passion can have an impact on our society. Tino is a brunch queen. You will find her in your local café trying bizarre things on the menu.
Angelica is a Nigerian-Australian from Sydney who is passionate about all facets of gender inequality and justice. A recent graduate of the Bachelor of Arts – Psychology, she is now studying a Master of Research. Angelica is passionate about advocating for the inclusion of female ethno-diverse voices in leadership and her activism is driven by her own personal experiences and family context. In her spare time Angelica enjoys eating loads of Vegemite, reading novels, writing short stories and blogging. She finds joy and motivation in watching others around her achieve, grow, and thrive.
Laila is an Afghan Australian from Melbourne, who moved to Australia in 2013 seeking asylum. Laila’s passion for helping people in need led her to study nursing, and having experienced life in both developing and developed countries, Laila realised the importance of girls’ equality. She is passionate about fighting for a world where every girl can dream for herself and make decisions around hers and her family’s future. Laila enjoys watching movies and her love of K-pop has her dreaming of visiting Korea one day.
Dom is from Melbourne and is currently in her last year of high school. She believes all people, regardless of their personal attributes and gender, is entitled to education and healthcare, and through feminist ideology, she wants to contribute to a building a world where women and girls everywhere are able to write their own narrative without fear. With this passion for creating an equitable world, Dom hopes to study Politics and Indigenous Studies at university and complete the Juris Doctorate. Dom finds entertainment in recording and re-watching herself badly dance to music.
Mayela, from inner western Sydney, is in Year 11. She’s of Latin American, Greek and Lebanese descent and envisions a world where opportunity is equal to everyone, and diversity is celebrated. She loves debating current affairs including refugee treatment, LGBTQI+ discrimination, politics, and the intersectionality of girls’ and women’s rights around the world. An avid reader and writer, she loves Harry Potter, and is often seen sporting HP merchandise. She hopes the Youth Activist Series will help her voice reach others and allow her to meet like-minded individuals.
Born and raised in Melbourne, Kavi is studying a Master of Public Health. She hopes to help eliminate longstanding structural violence against First Nations people, particularly the systemic racism and discrimination they experience in the Australian healthcare system. Globally, she is interested in improving access to reproductive health knowledge and healthcare, with the aim of increasing bodily autonomy for all women and girls. Kavi is also an avid coffee drinker and can often be found up at 1am binge watching the latest crime dramas on Netflix.
Imogen is studying Politics, International Relations and Sociology in Melbourne, and plans on pursuing a career in law. Growing up with a strong social conscience, she often feels angry about the world around her, but views activism as the act of following that anger and utilising it positively to change things. Deeply passionate about female bodily autonomy and sexuality, she wants to recognise all the power imbalances in society that contribute to people’s fear, poverty or struggles. She loves calculus, wearing floral pants, baking friands and caring for her dying pot plants.
About The Body Shop
Founded in 1976 in Brighton, England, by Dame Anita Roddick, The Body Shop is a global beauty brand and a certified B Corp™. The Body Shop seeks to make positive change in the world by offering high-quality, naturally-inspired skincare, body care, hair care and make-up produced ethically and sustainably. Having pioneered the philosophy that business can be a force for good, this ethos is still the brand’s driving force. The Body Shop operates about 3,000 retail locations in more than 70 countries. Along with Aesop, Avon and Natura, The Body Shop is part of Natura &Co, a global, multi-channel and multi-brand cosmetics group that is committed to generating positive economic, social and environmental impact.
About Plan International Australia
Put simply, we’re the charity for girls’ equality. We tackle the root causes of poverty, support communities through crisis, campaign for gender equality, and help governments do what’s right for children and particularly for girls. We believe a better world is possible. An equal world; a world where all children can live happy and healthy lives, and where girls can take their rightful place as equals.