Across the world, children and young people have been protesting and speaking up about what matters to them. Why? Because they feel country leaders are not listening to concerns on issues which impact children now, and into the future. While a wave of protests by children has recently taken place, child rights activism is nothing new. We take a look at five young activists using their voice to make change.

1. Malala Yousafzai

​"I tell my story not because it is unique,
but because it is the story of many girls."

At just 15-years-old, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head on a school bus by the Taliban in Pakistan for daring to speak out against a ban on education for girls. It is a story that is known across the world. 

Malala survived, and has gone on to become a role model for women globally. Now 21, she has devoted her life to being a voice in the fight to ensure all girls receive 12 years of free, safe, quality education. 
© UNICEF/UN072059/Abubakar

2. Greta Thunberg

Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg started a school strike for the climate outside the Swedish Parliament. Since then Greta, 16, has become a global phenomenon and has helped spread the movement, dubbed Fridays for Future, around the world. 

Greta has spoken a climate rallies in Stockholm, Helsinki, Brussels and London. Just this week, the 16-year-old gave a searing and emotional speech at the United Nations, calling on decision-makers around the world to commit to meaningful climate change action.

3. Bana Alabed

At just seven-years-old, Bana Alabed, now 10, became well known for documenting her experience of the siege of Aleppo in Syria through Twitter.

With the help of her mother, Bana told of the suffering for people inside and outside of Syria and gave a face to the everyday reality of life in Aleppo. Her Twitter account urged leaders to do more for the millions of children stuck in the middle of conflict.
​"I must say to the leaders of the world: They are not helping enough
to stop the war in Syria and to help the children. Many children are dying."

Bana and her mother were evacuated from Syria in late 2016 and in 2018, the child activist received the Atlantic Council Freedom Award.

4. Timoci Naulusala

Timoci Naulusala, 12, addressed world leaders in Bonn Germany.

His powerful speech on climate change during National Climate Week in Fiji lifted the spirits of many and reminded the world that we need to ensure the security and wellbeing of our young people and the future generations.

Timoci goes to school in Tailevu, which was one of the many districts severely damaged in February 2016 when Tropical Cyclone Winston ravaged Fiji, taking the lives of 44 Fijians, destroying homes, uprooting families, and inflicting serious damage to crops and farms.

Since then, some of the students and teachers have been forced to work and study under a tent.
​"My home, my school, my source
of food, water, money was totally
destroyed. My life was in chaos."
Timoci Naulusala, whose village in Fiji's Tailevu province was hit by a devastating cyclone last year, talks to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. © UNICEF/UN0315155/

5. Children around the world

“I saw Greta Thunberg speak at COP24. Her example showed me what I had to do," says Alexandria Villasenor, 13, to a group of young people protesting in favour of climate action outside the United Nations in March. 

On Fridays, throughout the winter, Alexandria took a cue from Thunberg and sat on a bench in New York to protest the lack of action on the environment.
​"I saw Greta Thunberg speak at COP24.
Her example showed me what I had to do."
The marchers also demanded that leaders take to heart the landmark October 2018 report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimating the planet was only 12 years away from catastrophe unless “far-reaching and unprecedented changes” are taken.

This year, thousands of children across Australia and around the world have taken to the streets to protest about what is important to them and what the feel is being ignored by the world’s leaders.

Children have the right to have an opinion and expect to be heard.
Alexandria Villasenor, 13, protesting in favour of climate action outside the United Nations on 15 March. © UNICEF/UN0302772/Unknown