Teenage Girls And Social Change

JD V., Editor

This women’s history month, let’s talk about teenage girls and the social changes that they’re causing. In 2021, teenage girls are organizing protests through social media, leading marches in their hometowns, and creating inventions that help people of all backgrounds. 

In the New York Times, Jessica Bennett interviewed Zee Thomas and Brianna Chandler. Thomas is a 15-year old who led a march through Nashville, along with 5 others, with 10,000 people. Chandler is a 19-year old, who used social media to organize a local fair for high school and college students to learn about racial justice in St. Louis. Thomas is quoted as saying “as teens, we feel like we cannot make a difference in this world but we must” and it seems that this is happening around the world. 

Feridoon Aryan, a reporter for UNICEF, writes about Somaya Faruqi, a 17 year-old girl in Herat, Afghanistan. Faruqi and her all-female robotics team used second-hand car parts to assemble a low-cost ventilator to treat coronavirus patients for a fraction of the cost of traditional ventilators. Nyree Abrahamian, another UNICEF reporter, writes about Hasmik Baghdasaryan, a 16-year old in Yerevan, Armenia. Baghdasaryan wanted to make science accessible to students of all backgrounds, so she and her co-founders created VR Labs, a program that simulates science experiments with virtual reality headsets. 

Lastly, the U.N. Foundation created Girl Up, a campaign that promotes activism for 13-22 year-olds for the health, safety, and education of girls. According to the Girl Up website, their “leadership programs have impacted 75,000 girls through 4,000 clubs in 125 countries and all 50 U.S. states.” 

Naturally, Mercy girls are making change too. The Social Justice Society, a club that promotes awareness and civil discussion of social issues in our society, is open to all students and it’s never too late to get involved. To learn a bit more about this club, I spoke to Dr. Wharton, a counselor here at Mercy.

How did the club get started?

Dr. Wharton: It was started in the 2014-2015 school year, by two seniors who were co-presidents that worked together in the beginning. Ms. StillingHagen was the original moderator who helped them. The girls wanted a club that dealt with social Justice in minority and marginalized communities and a place to discuss and educate on issues here at Mercy.

How is the club promoting awareness for societal issues?

Wharton: We have our regular meetings, monthly meetings. We discuss topics such as Black Lives Matter, why Black History Month should be celebrated, we’ve also discussed environmental issues and race and the culture at Mercy. During our meetings, we have someone present a PowerPoint, so whoever is presenting has to find videos, do some research, and then lead a discussion.

What is the club’s main concern right now and why?

Wharton: As we get more members from diverse backgrounds, perspectives become more sophisticated. We talk about race and health, race and class, and race and gender, but with COVID-19, people are becoming more aware and ready to talk about these issues as a reflection of everything happening around them.