Moms and kids who changed the world in 2019
These seven incredible mamas and young people have made an indelible mark on the course of history this year. We celebrate their impressive achievements…
As 2019 comes to an end, we honor seven mothers and children who made the world a better place this year through their passion and determination to make a difference. From a young indigenous Canadian girl who has been fighting for clean water in her country since she was eight years old to not one but two female prime ministers who balance motherhood and running their countries, these amazing individuals are shaping our future.
With such fearless trailblazers at the helm, we hold hope for our children. There’s still a chance to save our planet, achieve gender equality and put a stop to senseless violence. These seven pioneers are leading us into the future and it’s looking very bright.
Finland’s Sanna Marin recently became the world’s youngest sitting prime minister at the age of 34. She was selected by her Social Democratic party and leads a coalition with four other parties governed by women – three of whom are under 35.
Marin comes from a rainbow family. She was raised by her mother and her mother’s female partner, and she’s now a vocal advocate of LGBTQI rights because she felt that she couldn’t discuss her family when she was a child and “the silence was the hardest”. Marin is also a mom to 22-month-old Emma.
It’s been a big year for the Duchess of Sussex. She gave birth to baby Archie in May and she took on an impressive array of charitable commitments. One of her most successful initiatives was a clothing line she designed for Smart Works, a charity dedicated to helping women find work-appropriate clothing and job opportunities.
Meghan and Prince Harry also parted ways with the Royal Foundation to establish their own foundation called Sussex Royal. The charity is set to launch in the spring or summer of 2020 and Meghan is said to be working hard behind the scenes to raise “tens of millions of dollars quickly”.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand became the world’s second elected head of government to give birth while in office in 2018. She made history again a few months later when she brought her husband and baby Neve along with her to the United Nations General Assembly so she could continue to breastfeed.
Ardern calmly led her country through a series of crises this year – including the Christchurch mosque shootings and the White Island volcano eruption – and she’s now being described as one of the most powerful women in the world.
The Guardians of the Galaxy actress has three boys – five-year-old twins and a three-year-old – so she’d be forgiven for focusing all her attention on her family and her career. But when she heard about the increasing number of families being split up and detained at the U.S.-Mexico border this year, she had to do something about it. So, she travelled to the border with non-profit organization This Is About Humanity in early 2019 and met with some of the families.
“You sit down with 12-year-olds who left with their 8-year-old siblings, running away from sexual or domestic abuse,” Saldana told People. “We have to understand the human side of all of this.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg captured the world’s attention in late 2018 when she began holding school climate strikes outside the Swedish parliament. Her passion and dedication inspired a wave of student strikes around the world.
The 16-year-old made history with her powerful speech at the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019. “This is all wrong,” she said. “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope? How dare you!” Greta became the youngest person ever to be named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019 and she was nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
When Arielle Geismar heard that 17 students had been shot dead at a high school in Parklands, Florida in early 2018, she decided that she had to do something. “We’re forced into situations where it somehow becomes our responsibility to be the ‘adults’ and the mature ones,” she said to Teen Vogue. “I do this work because young people have a voice in our society, and damn right I’m going to fight for what I believe in.”
As New York State president of gun control group Team Enough, 18-year-old Arielle worked with Governor Cuomo to pass an “extreme risk protection order” to remove access to firearms from individuals who are considered a danger to themselves or others. She’s also a women’s rights activist.
“Water warrior” Autumn Peltier started campaigning for clean water at the tender age of eight when she went to a neighboring First Nations reserve in her native Ontario, Canada and was shocked to see a sign saying the water wasn’t fit for consumption.
Now 15, Autumn is an official “water protector” who advocates for safe drinking water for indigenous peoples in Canada. She once confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his support for pipelines that endanger First Nations water sources. She’s spoken at the United Nations twice and she was nominated for an International Children’s Peace Prize in 2019.