#BeTheChange: Age is no bar, if you really want to effect change

WION Delhi, India Nov 21, 2016, 08.53 AM (IST) Written By: WION Edge

Child activists from South Asia bringing a change (Representational Image) Photograph: WION


16-year-old Hem from Nepal is helping to put a stop to child marriages in her region. A member of the local children's club and a leader of the regional network of Child Protection Committee, she aims to change people's attitudes.

Hem (Twitter)



(Contributed by: Kandarp Rustogi and Zeba Khan)








Safaath Ahmed Zahir is UN Young Leader for Sustainable Development Goals from the Maldives. She works towards the empowerment of women. An activist for women's rights, she is among 17 people appointed as the inaugural class of UN Young Leaders for Sustainable Development Goals.

Safaath Ahmed Zahir (Twitter)




Nawaraj Rai from Bhutan recently won the Golden Youth Award in his native country for his ideas and contribution towards important issues that impact the youth. His foundation works in a number of different areas such as protecting the rights of the disabled, substance abuse prevention and treatment, education and employment generation.

Nawaraj Rai (Others)








Born in a poor family and forced into underage marriage, Radha Rani Sarker from Bangladesh is an advocate for girls' rights in her region. Dreaming of building a centre for girls escaping from underage marriages, her volunteer group 'wedding busters' has saved 20 girls till now. 

Radha Rani Sarker (Others)




Who would have thought that a 9-year-old girl who started advocacy of human rights and education for women in her native valley would go on to become the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. As a child, Malala Yosufzai became an advocate for education for girls, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, Malala was shot when she was traveling home from school. But her courage and passion helped her survive, and she has continued to speak out on the importance of education. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, but it was in 2014 that she was finally honoured with the prize.

Malala Yosufzai (Others)



(Contributed by: Kandarp Rustogi and Zeba Khan)


At the age of 14 in 2006, Om Prakash won the International Children’s Peace Prize. He is a former child labourer from the Indian state of Rajasthan, but his economic status was never a deterrent in his desire to improve the lives of others. He helped set up a network of “child friendly villages” where child labour is not allowed. He works against child exploitation and is a champion for children's rights. He also fights for children’s right to get a birth certificate because in India that entitles a child to free education.

Om Prakash (Others)



Sri Lanka

Kavindya Thennakoon from Sri Lanka is 16 years old and has been actively working towards providing better education to children. She works at The Warehouse Project, which provides free English classes to children. Kavindya serves on Youth Service America's Global Youth Council, where she participates in developing programs for youth to implement changes in the community. She is also a member of the United Nations Youth Advisory Panel as a Gender Equality adviser. 

Kavindya Thennakoon (Others)




Malalai Joya from Afghanistan is an activist and has been working since grade 8. She was 4 when her family had to flee the country to live as refugees in Iran. She returned to Afghanistan during the Taliban's reign in 1998 and worked as a human rights advocate for half a decade. Joya is the director of the non-governmental group Organisation of Promoting Afghan Women's Capabilities.

Malalai Joya (Others)




You know about Malala but there is another champion from Pakistan. Iqbal Masih is a symbol of the fight against child labour and slavery around the world. In the year 2000, he won the World's Children's Honorary Award for his work for the rights of children trapped in debt slavery. Starting off as a carpet factory worker himself, Iqbal has helped over 3,000 children escape from bondage.

Iqbal Masih (Others)




Meet the child activist from India who fights for girls’ right to education. Payal Jangid hails from a small town in the state of Rajasthan, India. She is a leader of the child parliament in her village and runs a campaign for the education and empowerment of girls.

Payal Jangid (Others)




You don’t have to be an adult to right a wrong.

The world is full of examples of kids fighting for the rights of others. And that's not where it ends, as these mini-champions have gone on to inspire others with their work. Motivated to bring social change, these kids have been fighting courageously, challenging entrenched orthodoxies and even the state. 

On Universal Children’s Day, we take a look at some child activists from South Asia, who have been influential in making an impact: