12 Young Women That Inspired Me in 2015

Finally, we've made it to the the end of 2015 - a long awaited year for so many of us working in international development. There have been negotiations aplenty, 17 new Global Goals and ambitious commitments.

Finally, we've made it to the the end of 2015 - a long awaited year for so many of us working in international development. There have been negotiations aplenty, 17 new Global Goals and ambitious commitments.

But for me, looking back over the last 12 months, that hasn't been our only success. I want to celebrate some of the remarkable young global changemakers that helped make this all happen.

As UK Director at Restless Development I've worked with and come across so many courageous, passionate, young people. They've reacted to global challenges and united against the odds. Their stories have inspired me on a daily basis.

Here are just 12 of those brilliant young women (hint: give this to anyone that says there aren't enough female role models & heroes out there). They are but a few of the many that will go on to making this year's commitments a reality.

JANUARY: Eva and action/2015

Credit: One

Eva, 15, is a member of Restless Development's 'Girls let's be Leaders' group. She's determined to complete secondary school and knows how challenging that'll be, especially being a girl. She wrote to her President, and the President of the United States. On the 15th January she joined the global launch of action/2015. She threw down the gauntlet: this year must deliver on new global commitments. In September, Obama read Eva's letter, at the UN. Stating, "Eva, we have heard you..."

FEBRUARY: Juliana and Youth Stop AIDS

Juliana Odingo, 23, was born in Kenya with HIV/AIDS. She lost both her parents early on in life, and grew up without child-friendly HIV treatment. Motivated by her own experience (biting adult-sized pills in half, and lack of appropriate care & support) she joined our Youth Stop AIDS campaign. She spent the month touring the UK with us - inspiring others to join the campaign, and experts to do things differently by prioritising access to the medicines people so desperately needed over profit.

MARCH: Ladan and International Women's Day

Ladan Takow (right) volunteered on International Citizen Service (ICS) in India. Her blog gave me regular uplifting insight into what volunteering with ICS is really like and how important it is. Since being back in the UK, she's inspired many fellow women to be active citizens, including her peers in the Somalian diaspora community. She says: "Now is the perfect time to commit energy to help others, get involved with something you feel passionate about!"

APRIL: Angy and Nepal's Earthquake

Angy Praham, an intern in Nepal has helped us lead efforts working with children and young people most at risk. With schools destroyed and closed, and many left homeless and dealing with trauma, Angy has been working with others to provide 'Child Friendly Spaces' for children in Laliput & Kathmandu. Here children have been supported to play, learn and importantly be and feel safe.

MAY: Mita and Reframe the Vote

Mita Desai, Chair of the British Youth Council, joined our campaign to 'Reframe the Vote'. I quote: "politics should be more than how a politician eats a sandwich. If you want to engage young people talk about the real issues that affect them". In the run up to the UK elections we connected passionate young people, to register to vote and engage in politics.

JUNE: Primrose and Have You Seen My Rights?

Primrose Manyalo, a Restless Development campaigner in Harare, led the fight for young people's sexual and reproductive health rights. With global negotiations taking place within the Global Goals process, Primrose fought to make sure that young people's rights to made decisions about their own sexual lives and live free from fear and violence were as progressive as they can be. She took the cause to the UN with the Have You Seen My Rights? coalition, giving a passionate plea for these rights so frequently overlooked.

JULY: Alpha and Ebola Mobilisation

Baindu had waited months to marry Restless Development's staff member, Alpha Jalloh (centre, white dress). A year after Sierra Leone was declared a state of emergency, they tied the knot in July. Nothing is more touching than some of the individual stories that triumph over the crisis in Sierra Leone. Before the end of the year, young Sierra Leoneans were celebrating as they bid Bye Bye to Ebola (a MUST WATCH video if you haven't seen!).

AUGUST: Angela and International Youth Day

Angela Lazo, 27, in Costa Rica, is just one of the thousands who led efforts on the 12th August for International Youth Day. Angela is a young mother, and a social activist. She joined the campaign because she wants healthy and safe cities, especially for young people with special needs. She led her local mobilisation on #YouthPower, whilst others took action in more than 80 countries - all putting young people at the heart of action/2015.

SEPTEMBER: Ronagh and Youth & UN Summits

Credit: DFID

Ronagh Craddock, co-host of the Youth Summit, with Amro Hussain. She anchored the day with 300 young ICS returned volunteers and 50 civil servants and got an invite from Justine Greening to accompany her to the UN General Assembly. Representing young people and the Youth Summit no one was better placed to put young people at the heart of these talks.

OCTOBER: Jo and #LoveWins

My wife, Jo (right). No I don't work with her, and well she's at least young at heart. But she's my my love, my comrade and now legally my wife - something that's brought much love and happiness. 18 months ago this wasn't even possible in the UK. Four months ago it wasn't possible in most of the US. We have come so far. And yet homosexuality is still illegal in 79 countries. We still have so far to go.

NOVEMBER: Arifa and The Good, The Bad, The Sustainable?

Arifa Nasim (centre), 18 years old, has has campaigned for girls rights since she was 14, she co-founded Educate2Eradicate, joined Ronagh at the UN Summit and our panel discussion with Mark Mardell called The Good, The Bad, The Sustainable?. She said "Don't just engage us, nothing upsets me more, we want to participate, full participation in the process and decision making".

DECEMBER: Sarah and #CoolerPlanet

Credit: DFID

Sarah Kirby (far left),a UK campaigner who cares about the bigger picture. She will tell you why climate change matters for poverty and gender equality and joined other #CoolerPlanet campaigners at COP21 in Paris. These talks meant we rounded up the year with a climate deal that includes $100bn for the world's poorest to help fight climate change.


What's Hot