Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
7 incredible youth peace activists
The young people fighting for a better world
By JESSICA JURKSCHAT AND hannah rochell
19 AUGUST 2021
These inspirational youth leaders are using their voices to promote peace and reclaim their power. Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions gives hope for a more peaceful world in the future. Here are the young people driving that forward.
1. Aalayah Eastmond
Who: Aalayah Eastmond, age 20, Florida
What they do: Aalayah was in one of the classrooms that a gunman attacked in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She protected herself from the killer under her friend's dead body. Now on the executive board of Team Enough - the youth-led initiative that educates young people to end gun violence - Aalayah is a voice for African Americans and the gun violence they face everyday. This is particularly important to her because her uncle was shot and killed 15 years ago. She is an inspiring voice who has been on Oprah and testified against Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination– which brought members of congress to tears.
2. Emma Gonzalez
Who: Emma Gonzalez, age 21, Florida
What they do: Emma waited in a dark room with some of her friends while a gunman was outside randomly attacking people in her school. She survived but 17 innocent people didn’t. Four days later she delivered a powerful speech at a gun control rally in Florida and soon became a household figure with her name trending on Twitter. Her meteoric rise was unplanned, and came as a result of a passionate and emotive speech. She continues to speak out about gun violence and has been on the cover of TIME Magazine. She also co-founded March For Our Lives – the youth movement borne out of the attack which is aiming to change gun control legislation.
3. David Hogg
Who: David Hogg, age 21, Florida
What they do: After the Parkland shooting in 2018, the then-17 year old David co-founded March for Our Lives with Emma and his classmates. David has relentlessly spoken out about gun control and as a result has received multiple death threats, but this doesn’t stop him. He even published a book with his sister which is part manifesto and part memoir, which details how gun ownership can coexist with human safety. It is an essential read, especially for Americans who can easily access firearms.
4. Payal Jangid
Who: Payal Jangid, age 19, Rajasthan
What they do: Having escaped from a life of child slavery in Delhi, at just age 14 Payal became an advocate for girl’s education, as well as speaking out about child marriage (she refused to be a child bride herself). Earlier this year, her work was recognised at the Goalkeepers Global Awards, an annual event to celebrate work that supports the UN’s 17 Global Goals.
5. Cameron Kasky
Who: Cameron Kasky, age 20, Florida
What they do: Cameron was another Parkland victim who co-founded March for Our Lives. He said in an interview that in 20 years he wants people not to “think of people crying… [but of people] standing up and standing for something that was bigger than them.” He was on television most days following the attack and stood up to notable politicians. This intense media frenzy however was negative for Kasky’s mental health and so he left the March For Our Lives group to focus on bipartisan dialogue and hopes to launch a podcast where he 6onverses with people who disagree with him.
6. Rustam Wahab
Who: Rustam Wahab, age 19, UK
What they do: Rustam is a journalist and owner of @ukfactcheckpolitics, an educational account he set up in order to engage young people in politics and stop the spread of fake news. He's currently using his Instagram account to share footage obtained from the ground in Afghanistan.
7. Pashtana Durrani
Who: Pashtani Durrani, age 23, Afghanistan
What they do: Pashtani is the 23-year-old executive director of LEARN, a non-profit focused on education in Afghanistan. From an undisclosed location, Pashtani is using her voice and platform to speak out and raise awareness of what the recent Taliban takeover means for Afghanistan's women and girls. 'I'm willing to fight for my rights, I'm willing to do everything in my power to make sure that those girls who are afraid, are not afraid anymore.'