I March For Girls Because You’re Never Too Young

Refinery29 is partnering with Girls Who Code for the #MarchForSisterhood on International Day of the Girl. This is the first-ever all-digital global march. Come back each day this week to learn about why different young women are participating, and join us as we #MarchForSisterhood on any of your social media channels this Friday, October 11, 2019.

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I was 9 years old when I became a blogger, activist, and changemaker — although, I didn’t call myself any of those at the time. For me, it began by showing that if I can create change, anyone can. I was all about raising awareness around the idea that the little things we all do add up to make a big difference. If a lot of people took small actions, we could help tackle so many of the issues we’re passionate about. But we’ll get into that later. 

I’ve been told more times than I can count — both online and IRL — that I’m “too young,” that I “shouldn’t be a feminist.” But, I’ve always known I can, I should, I am.

Earlier, I mentioned the word “passionate” when I was talking about causes we can tackle. To be honest, the 9-year-old me didn’t fully understand what the word passionate meant. I learned that it’s about asking yourself questions like: What do you love? What makes you angry? What do you deeply care about? What do you want to tell the world?

For some of us, answers to those questions come because of experience or circumstance — like for those among us who have lived through bullying, gun violence, or struggles with mental health. For others it comes through learning about the world and then  becoming engaged global citizens passionate about child labor, education, or the environment. We all have different paths to our passions.

But what do you with all of that experience? That knowledge? That passion? How do you turn that into real, tangible action? These are big questions. I answer them with a formula. Don’t worry, it’s a formula that even for those among us (myself included) who aren’t so great at math can understand and use.

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Issue + Gift = Change

The first part of the formula, your issue, is your passion. You’ve got that, right?

The second part, your gift, is how you’re going to take action. Finding your gift is about answering questions about what you’re good at, what you enjoy doing and the resources at your disposal. Whether your gift is science, music, art, or writing, you can use it to create good in your community and the world. Your gift can also be something like kindness, compassion, or empathy. These are such powerful emotions that can’t be underestimated. They can be used to start and amplify the conversations that need to be started, recognize the humanity in people, or even just make someone else’s day a little bit brighter. 

I march for the girl that’s told she can’t make a difference because she’s too young. Because she can.
Hannah alper

Pro Tip: Just as you can have many issues that you are passionate about, you probably have many gifts you can use.

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Issue + Gift = Change. It works. Every changemaker I have met has used it, even if they don’t know it. Let’s take one of my personal role models as an example, Malala. Her issue is education and she has used her gift of communication to bring her issue to the forefront and has created real tangible change for millions of girls around the world. 

I have always believed in role models being a huge part of a young changemakers journey, especially a young female changemakers journey. In the face of obstacles and skeptics, we need those role models to help reaffirm our why and motivate us to believe that we have the power and the capacity to make a difference. 

The #MarchForSisterhood is full of role models with people of our own generation working tirelessly to create change everyday with the goal to inspire more people to join the journey of a changemaker. On Friday, October 11, The International Day of the Girl, the online world around us will be flooded with issues, gifts, and the women working to change them right now. It is called the #MarchForSisterhood. How can you be a part of it? On the day of the march, take that first step to find your issue and learn about it. Then, find someone who’s already taking action on the same issue that you can get guidance and inspiration from. 

On The International Day Of The Girl, our collective gift, is our community.

I march for the girl that’s told she can’t make a difference because she’s too young. Because she can. I march for the girl that’s told that being a feminist is a bad thing. Because it isn’t. Change doesn’t discriminate and I will be standing alongside her and cheering her on the entire time. What will you march for?

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At the age of nine, Hannah launched her blog, Call Me Hannah, to share her growing concern for environmental issues and show that small, everyday actions can lead to big change. Today, at 16 years-old, she has emerged as an activist, impassioned public speaker and author. Hannah uses her voice and platform to motivate and empower people of all ages to identify their passion and take action for a better world.

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