This is it everyone! It’s the end of the decade and of course, the end of a tough ride of a year. We’ve seen pressing issues being brought forward and longtime struggles resolved. Topics such as climate change, terror attacks, LGBTQ+ rights, feminism and of course, impeachment bombarded the headlines for days. However, instead of giving much focus onto the issues that we’ve been reading for days and some, even for months, let’s take a step back to shed light on the greatest change makers of the year. These people have courageously voiced out their opinions and have brought much change regardless of the medium of activism used and the fields that they’ve brought change in. Without further due, here’s the Top 6 Biggest Change Makers of 2019.
1. Greta Thunberg
This 16-year-old could have just been chilling in her comfy home in Sweden, attending school like other normal teens and having a normal social life if it were up to her. But no, she decided to choose the path where her passion was; climate change activism. From a young age of 8, Greta Thunberg had been thinking about climate change and the most obvious problem in all of the environmental issues out there; the lack of action to curb it. After undergoing depression at the age of 11, due to the fact that saving the planet seemed like an impossible task, in May 2018, she found her voice to make a change. An essay competition was all it took for her to kick start her activism career. Truth be told, the power of a pen and a paper holds no boundaries for anyone who has mastered the art of conquering both these important elements. In late 2018, Thunberg spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland and that was followed by a worldwide protest on the inaction of climate change on March 15 this year. 1 Nobel Peace Prize nomination, several meetups with prominent figures and politicians and another worldwide climate strike later, Thunberg’s speech at the UN Climate Action Summit literally gave me goosebumps. I’ve never seen a more passionate speech in my entire life and I’m very proud of her as a fellow teen and also as an individual who’s striving to make a change in my own way too. Now, as Time’s 2019 Person of the Year, I believe that Greta would bring a bigger change in this world in the years to come because even I am sick and tired of the fake promises given by selfish and foolish politicians regarding environmental issues.
2. Hasan Minhaj
Patriot Act fans can rejoice at this piece of news. From advocating about the rights and being the voice of Muslims and immigrants both in the United States of America and all around the world, to talking about pressing global issues such as the 1MDB scandal, the Citizenship Amendment Act in India and the protests in Sudan via The Patriot Act, Hasan had been the voice of change regardless if you’ve noticed it or not. Despite explaining all of these in comical ways, the first thing that makes Hasan a great changemaker is his ability to explain political, economical and social terms, which could seem like a very daunting task for many to comprehend, into bite-sized, understandable jargon. Furthermore, it takes courage and bravery to speak up against the inequalities and injustices happening in this world. Hasan has been using the power of words to spark up meaningful debates and arguments that, much to the dismay of the problem causers, pose a high potential in bringing change to this world. Bringing light to awareness and to relay the light to others to raise awareness is by far the best form of activism, in the current era where the media gets the upper hand in critical situations.
3. & 4. Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy
Who could forget the historical day when India decriminalized homosexuality? That landmark judgement which overturned a 157 year old law despite numerous protests by religious groups made me believe in humanity again. However, Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy are the real heroes for this euphoric moment. Both Arundhati and Menaka, who came out as a couple early this year, fought hard for the repeal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. India may be the hearth of culture and traditions but the LGBTQ+ community in India had been unaccepted for a long time both legally and culturally. Armed with a well-planned strategy and well-researched legal arguments, this power duo shone the light through the darkest days of the Indian LGBTQ+ community, in the world’s largest democracy. Although this happened over a year ago, they’re on the list of Time’s 100 Most Influential People 2019 and they deserve more recognition too. Due to their determination and perseverance, the rights of homosexuals in India to live and love freely with no legal constructs bound against the, have been affirmed and justified.
5. Jacinda Ardern
The Christchurch Mosque Attacks. Just hearing the name of that fatal incident sends shivers down my spine. It took away the lives of 51 people and once again, the term “terror attack” became popular in the eyes of the world. Unlike other world leaders who would only convey condolences to the families or individuals affected by the incident, Jacinda Ardern went the extra mile by announcing her government’s intention to introduce strong firearms regulations shortly after the attacks; a decision that not only was well-applauded by world leaders but also, a rare feat for any government to do so. By mid-April, most automatic and semi-automatic weapons were outlawed and more than 10,000 firearms were handed to the government as part of a gun buyback scheme by August. Ardern’s stance in this issue is a perfect example on the unbiased handling of issues in a country where the vast majority of citizens are of a specific religion. She’s a true changemaker due to the fact that this decision of hers could lead to a safer world which champions peace and harmony.
6. Nadya Okamoto
Menstruation. A taboo word till now. Menstrual hygiene is an even bigger issue internationally. In various parts of the world, there are a lot of women out there who still do not have access to basic menstruation products such as pads and tampons because they are too expensive hence, they would resort to using dirty rags which would immediately give room for infections and a huge leeway for another big issue; poor reproductive health. However, Nadya Okamoto, via her own organization, PERIOD (formed during her high school days), has tried to do her part in solving this alarming issue. Via this organization of hers, period products were distributed to people in need and it also involved youth leaders through campus chapters at universities and high schools in the United States of America. Besides that, Nadya also works towards the social and legal change around menstrual equity. This is a huge advancement in the works which deserve worldwide attention. Although it was solely concentrated on a particular country, the impact was definitely huge enough for the world to have some sort of awareness on menstrual hygiene. Nadya even got into Forbes 30 under 30 for Law and Policy, proving that age is no barrier to be an activist and as well as a change maker.
In a nutshell, these change makers are the new faces of revolution. Courageously combating pressing issues in this world, these inspiring people should be looked up to by the youth of today. Forget all those corrupt, racist, casteist politicians who seem to manipulate the minds of their people. Forget all those influencers who know nothing better than to promote fairness creams and fatal diet plans. These change makers are here to stay for good and I’m looking forward to seeing more change makers who strive to make an impact in the lives of others next year.