These Are Just a Few Stories About Amazing Girls

Kimberly Dover is making a difference for girls. A first year student at Granite Bay High School in California, Kimberly fought for her right to participate in the high school robotics club…soon becoming its president! Kimberly has participated in a number of national conferences including participating as one of a hundred girls who were invited to Girls Lead (a project of Lead America) in Washing D.C. Kimberly is a daily example that girls have a place in science and technology. (Sacramento Bee, August 24, 2005)

Indira Gandhi was only 12 years old when she organized the "Monkey Brigade," a group of more than a thousand Indian children who assisted the National Congress Party fighting for India's independence.  Indira served as a spy, fought in the rebellion, was imprisoned, and later became the second-highest ranking politician when she was elected president of the National Congress Party in 1959.  She went on to become Prime Minister of India in 1966, becoming the first woman ever to run a democratic country!  Though controversial throughout her leadership, Indira Gandhi assisted a nation from colonial rule to democracy. And she continues to serve as a great example that women can lead.  (source:  Girls Who Rocked the World)

At seventeen, Geneva Johnson is running "Bring It On," an organization she
created to promote youth leadership and community involvement. Bring It On
is a non-profit, youth run organization that engage youth in service projects in the North East section of the Bronx. Projects include Environmental Cleanup, Youth Jam and You Go Girl! Empowerment Forums. For more information, visit

When her sister died of cancer, nine-year-old Kory Johnson did some investigating. She determined that the cancer was most likely due to contaminated water in her neighborhood. Kory took action. She formed Children for a Safe Environment to encourage young people to speak out about environmental health hazards. Her work focused on the environmental abuses of unethical corporations who dump toxic waste in poor neighborhoods. She was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1998 and the Ms. Foundation recognized her as one of the top 10 role models for 1999. Kory is a phenomenal example of making the personal political...and a great model of how one person can make a difference. (source: Girls Who Rocked the World 2)

Inaccurate and biased abstinence-only programs continue to be promoted by the GW Bush Administration, but an amazing young woman has spoken out.  A documentary film entitled "The Education of Shelby Knox" details Shelby's stand against her abstinence-only curriculum at her school in Lubbock, Texas.  At 15 years old, Shelby took on her school board and her community to fight for comprehensive sex education.  For more about Shelby Knox and her film, visit PBS at

In her senior year of college, Maya Lin won an architect design contest beating out nearly 1500 entries of professional and amateur architects.  Her design would be used for a new national monument in the Constitution Gardens of Washington D.C. honoring Vietnam Veterans.  A child of Chinese immigrants, Maya's passion for design and architecture began as a young child building miniature towns from scraps in her father's art studio. Maya's design for the monument became very controversial when she decided to reflect a nation's conflicted emotion about the war in Vietnam.  To address the controversy, it was decided that a second, more traditional, monument would be erected nearby by architect Frederick Hart.  Hart was paid $200,000 for his work, while Maya was paid merely $20,000.  She preserved and when her monument was complete it became an instant success, silencing critics throughout the nation.  But more importantly her monument is the famous Vietnam Memorial wall where people come from around the world to honor loved ones, remember and reflect upon the war, and make pencil impressions of the names on the wall.  Her Vietnam Memorial is the most visited memorial in the United States. There are numerous web resources to see images of the wall, for one source visit Maya went onto win the 1988 Presidential Design Award and was chosen by request to design the Civil Rights Memorial. (source:  Girls Who Rocked the World 2)

After being selected among thousands to participate in the 1998 Junior Summit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Nicole McLaren created a website to break down boundaries of race, gender, class and nationality for young people to come together to share their ideas and concerns for global problems. Believing that, on the internet, "we are all one nation," Nicole launched to create a venue that valued young voices. While the website is no longer active, we honor Nicole's commitment to using technology to build bridges among nations and emphasize the importance of young voices in our global community. (source: Girls Who Rocked the World 2)

Rigoberta Menchú was only 15 years old when she took up the fight for indigenous peoples rights in Guatemala. Working on fincas--large plantations of coffee, cotton or sugar cane--since she could walk, Rigoberta Menchú was all too familiar with the racism and violence that devastated her people. Learning Spanish and a number of Mayan languages, Rigoberta Menchú became a voice for her community. She fought for fair treatment, safe labor conditions, and worldwide recognition of the plight of indigenous peoples of Guatemala. She won the Nobel Peace prize in 1992, becoming the youngest person to ever win the award. For more on Rigoberta Menchú read her biography, "I, Rigoberta Menchú"

Waiting in the car one evening, ten-year-old, Becky Schroeder decided to finish some math homework. Her dilemma? It was getting too dark to see her paper. Her solution? Instead of putting the homework away for another time, Becky decided to take advantage of her dilemma--she began working on what became the "Glo-Sheet," a glow in the dark paper that enables people to write in the dark. After a 'glowing' review in the New York Times, Becky's invention became a success with photographers who used the paper in their darkrooms, movie critics who took notes in dark theaters, and emergency medical personnel taking patient notes in ambulances. At age 12, Becky became the youngest person to receive a U.S. Patent. (source: Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh)

Lateefah Simon was only 17 when she joined the staff of the Center for Young Women's Development. Only a few years later she became the center's Executive Director, and one of the nation's youngest non-profit executives. The Center for Young Women's Development is a peer-based program working with girls who have been homeless, incarcerated, or in other ways impacted by the cycle of poverty. In 2003, Lateefah became the youngest woman to be awarded the MacArthur Fellow "genius" award. Lateefah has since passed leadership of the center onto another young woman, but continues to advocate for young women in poverty. For more information about the Center for Young Women's Development, visit their website at

Daily violence and harassment are increasingly a reality in the lives of young women throughout this country--and indeed around the world. Amongst statistics and headlines, rarely do we hear the stories of women who fight back. But one headline in 2003 caught our attention. After days enduring a 25-year old man exposing himself in front of their school, a group of about 20 South Philadelphia high school girls decided to fight back. They chased him down and held him until police responded. The man was apprehended and the girls became heroes. We fight back in many ways--all of which are to be recognized and honored. We need more stories about our strength as women and girls. And we need to create a society where we no longer have to fight for our lives.

Harriet Tubman was only 15 years old when she first assisted fellow slaves to freedom. She had been beaten, whipped and abused as a slave but her
worst attack, on the day she first helped someone to freedom, put her into a coma for weeks and required 6 months to regain her ability to walk.  Although only 15 years old, Harriet Tubman soon became known as the "Moses" of her people, creating the now-famous underground railroad leading more blacks out of slavery than any other person in American history. (source: Girls Who Rocked the World 2)

Amazing girls from history: Phyllis Wheatley was only 17 years old, and a slave, when her first poem was published. At nineteen, she became the first African American author, male or female, to have a book of poetry published.

Are you an amazing girl doing activism in your community? We want to celebrate you! Send us your story. Email or mail to us at 426 J street, Suite 280, Sacramento, CA 95814.

Great Resources on Amazing Girls:
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh
Girls Who Rocked the World by Amelie Weldon

Girls Who Rocked the World 2 by Michelle Roehm
The Sky's the Limit: Stories of Discovery by Women and Girls by Catherine Thimmesh
Girls Speak Out: Finding Your True Self by Andrea Johnson