Next Gen Young Women Standing Tall

A collage of all the impressive young female activists featured within the article.
Kick Ass Next Gen Women

“Never insult Albus Dumbledore in front of me.” ~ Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“Never insult the younger generations in front of me.” ~ Georgia Sanders, Culture Honey Magazine

Simone Biles stands in uniform at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo with the Olympic rings in the background.

Simone Biles, at the Summer Olympics, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gregory Bull

According to Pew Research, the Millennial generation is generally referred to as anyone born between 1981 and 1996, ages 41 to 26 in 2022. Millennials, also known as Generation Y or Gen Y, are the demographic following Generation X and preceding Generation Z.

Generation Z (or Gen Z for short), is the demographic succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha, generally born after 1996. For the sake of my article here, I’m going with “Next Gen” to encompass all of these bad a** gals!

Cassidy Hutchinson raises her hand in oath while giving testimony before the Select Committee.

The idea to honor these Next Gen young women culminated for me while watching 26 year old Cassidy Hutchinson give her ground-shifting testimony on June 28, 2022 before the January 6th Select Committee. But the idea’s beginnings reached much farther back in time, to a couple of (now) influential young women who started their extraordinary lives as ordinary school girls.

A young Greta Thurnberg stands holding a sign which reads "School strike for the climate" in Swedish.

Greta Thurnberg, Image Credit: Photograph: Hanna Franzen/EPA

When she was 15 years old, in August 2018, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg began taking her stand for Climate Justice, skipping school to hold a sign at the Swedish parliament – she ultimately called these protests “Fridays for Future. Greta has been diagnosed with Asperger’s, which is part of the autism spectrum. But instead of seeing this as a hinderance, she called it her “superpower”, a gift that allows for intense focus on one subject. At 16, Greta addressed the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit in New York City, where her cry of “”How dare you?” was widely taken up and continues to influence young and old around the world to take the threat of climate change seriously.

Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg sit on a bench together and pose for a photo.

Malala and Greta, Photo Credit: @MALALA

In 2009, when she was 11, Malala Yousafzai began writing a blog for the BBC (under a pseudonym) that detailed her life during the Taliban’s occupation of Pakistan. In 2012, a Taliban gunman boarded her school bus and asked, “Who is Malala?” He then horrifically shot her on the left side of her head in retaliation for her stand on the rights of girls to be educated.

Thankfully Malala recovered and has continued her activism. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at 17, has written an internationally best selling book I Am Malala – her brave answer to oppression – and continues her work from her foundation based in Birmingham, England.

Emma X González looks with bold confidence into the camera lense.

Emma X González, Photo Credit: Joe Pugliese for Variety

Another young women, Emma “X” González, called out “BS” to U.S. lawmakers in an unforgettably powerful moment just four days after a gunman open fired on her high school, leaving 17 students and teachers dead, the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history. Within the next year, she, along with her classmates organized and launched the largest national youth movement against gun violence that has ever existed: March for Our Lives. She continues to advocate for common sense gun laws, along with advocating for LBGTQ+ rights today.

Poet Amanda Gorman smiles with confidence amidst a sea of yellow tassles

Poet Amanda Gorman

24 year old Amanda Gorman is an American poet and activist. Her work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization. Amanda was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate and her eloquently delivered poem while in that role, “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, left a nation comforted and inspired after years of political turmoil, which included the recent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, Covid 19 suffering and protests over police brutality after the murder of George Floyd.

U.S. elite gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman all braved the glare of press to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar. In emotional testimony these young women not only told their stories in public within the Senate chamber, but they also brought their criticisms of the top law enforcement agencies in the country, with Simone saying the FBI mishandled its investigation into Nassar, ignoring their reports for more than a year, which allowed him to continue molesting dozens of athletes.

McKayla Maroney said of the FBI, “They allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year and this inaction directly allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue.”

McKayla Maroney testifies before the Senate.

McKayla Maroney

Maggie Nichols raises her hand in oath before giving her testimony.

Maggie Nichols

Aly Raisman sits thoughtfully in the Senate, her hand on her chin.

Aly Raisman

Simone Biles testifies calmly before the Senate.

Simone Biles, an American gymnast who is considered one of the sport’s greatest athletes, has won 32 medals across the Olympics and World Championships, an unprecedented total. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she became the first female U.S. gymnast to win four gold medals at a single Games, and she was the first gymnast to win three consecutive world all-around titles from 2013–15.

Now 25 years old, Simone was lauded by her sponsors for her decision to put her mental health first and withdraw from certain gymnastics team competitions during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Her participation in a hearing before the Senate about the sexual abuse she and hundreds of other gymnasts, including the other three that testified with her, faced is one more example of her courage, focus, and exemplary personal character. Just this week she, along with Megan Rapinoe, were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Abby Phillip smiles calmly while wearing a bold red dress and looking off into the distance.

Abby Phillip

An intelligent, calm presence on CNN, 34 year old Abigail Phillip is a respected African American female journalist who regularly gives sharp political analysis, holding her own with maturity and poise in groupings of veteran Washington insider reporters each day.

Yamiche Alcindor smiles warmly toward the camera as she stands amidst the woods.

Yamiche Alcindor

Yamiche Alcindor is a Haitian-American award-winning journalist who was the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour from 2018 until earlier this year when she joined NBC News’ Washington team. At 36 years old, she continues to moderate and host the respected Washington Week on PBS as well.

Yamiche often reports on the intersection of race and politics as well as compassionately telling the stories of fatal police encounters, along with reporting generally on the Washington DC news of the day.

Laura Barrón-López smiles warmly while standing on the lawn in front of a capitol building.

At 27 years Laura Barrón-López already had a stellar background working as a White House reporter for Politico as well as reporting for the Washington ExaminerThe Hill and HuffPost before becoming the PBS NewsHour‘s new White House Correspondent, following in the footsteps of Yamiche Alcindor. Now she can be seen each day reporting with gravity and intelligence on the latest affairs coming out of the White House.

I must confess to standing in awe of these young women. With having two accomplished and loving daughters from the millennial generation myself, as well as working with many others from the next generation on this magazine, I am indeed comforted for the future of the world – as long as the previous generations leave them one to have a future in, and let’s be clear, a future that is Just for All. I am inspired as I watch these young women make the choices they make, push forward in the work that they do, and take the stands that they take.

SO – older generations, let’s listen – and support – and once again:

“Never insult Albus Dumbledore in front of me.” ~ Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“Never insult the younger generations in front of me.” ~ Georgia Sanders, Culture Honey Magazine
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