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These Girls Are Changing the World Through Social Media

Girls using social media to change the world

Whatever your personal views on the subject, it's undeniable that social media has changed the world as we know it. From breaking news to turning local issues into causes of global concern, through social media, we can change lives and challenge the status quo. 

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is one of the leaders of the social media revolution. #LeanIn has become synonymous with women pushing themselves forward professionally and realising their ambitions, while #banbossy is a protest against calling girls "bossy," when they are just being assertive, strong or outspoken.

But you don't need to be an exec at a Fortune 500 company to start a movement: women's issues have been pushed to the forefront of social media, with hashtag campaigns like #AskHerMore, which challenges the questions reporters ask red carpet stars, to #EverydaySexism, which chronicles basic harassment that women experience on a day-to-day basis. Other social media enterprises, like Pinkstinks UK and Let Toys Be Toys, fight against gender stereotypes that remain ever-present in children's clothing, toys and books.

Here are six girls changing the world through social media who you need to have on your radar...

1. Zea Tongeman (@zeazeatat)
She may be only 16 years old, but Zea Tongeman, a self-confessed "tech geek," has already launched an app to encourage people to get recycling - her Jazzy Recycling app turns sustainability into a game. Her tech journey began after a Little Miss Geek workshop she took at school aged 14. After being introduced to coding and wearable tech, she entered the Apps for Good competition with her friend Jordan Stirbu, and became a fervent believer — and advocate — promoting the idea that tech is cool and definitely not just for boys.

"This was really what got me excited about technology because it showed me that you don't have to be sitting at a computer screen all day typing really fast, you can be creative with it and do anything you want," Tongeman told The Guardian in October 2013.

2. Rupi Kaur (@rupikaur_
The Canadian poet and artist posts poetry on a range of topics to her Instagram account, covering everything from sisterhood and relationships between men and women to difficult issues like abuse. But it was when the photographer posted a picture of a woman with a visible period stain onto the social network, which was deleted twice for violating "community guidelines," that Kaur made headlines for her response, which has become aligned with the #FreeThePeriod movement. 

"I will not apologise for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. When your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified, pornified. and treated less than human. thank you.

"As a part of my final project for my visual rhetoric course I created this image along with a full set which you can view at Rupikaur.com to demystify the period and make something that is innate 'normal' again cause rape categories in porn are okay. objectification and sexualisation is okay. people getting off on naked underage women. bondage. torture. humiliation. abuse is okay but this makes them uncomfortable. that's what this work is supposed to do. make you as uncomfortable as you should feel when you watch others get abused and objectified... "I bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. My womb is home to the divine. A source of life for our species. Whether I choose to create or not. But very few times it is seen that way. In older civilizations this blood was considered holy. In some it still is. But a majority of people, societies. and communities shun this natural process. Some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. The sexualisation of women. The violence and degradation of women than this. They cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. But will be angered and bothered by this. We menstruate and they see it as dirty. Attention seeking. Sick. A burden. As if this process is less natural than breathing. As if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. As if this process is not love. labour. life. selfless and strikingly beautiful." Did we mention she's only 23?


3. Tess Holliday (@effyourbeautystandards)
Tess Holliday is a model and activist at the forefront of the body positive movement. A size 26, the model is breaking down industry barriers and has been signed to top London-based agency, MiLK Model Management. She also aims to challenge beauty ideals with her viral #effyourbeautystandards campaign, which encourages women to embrace and celebrate their bodies, no matter their shape or size, as well as calling out the unrealistic beauty standards women are subjected to. 

"I created the hashtag [#EffYourBeautyStandards] because I was tired of being told what I could and couldn’t wear by the media and how I should cover my body because of my size," Holliday told The Huffington Post. "I decided ‘eff that,’ I will wear what I want!" Amen to that.

4. Francesca Rossella (@cutecircuit)
This Shoreditch, London based designer has been pushing the boundaries of wearable technology — and taking fashion in to the future - since launching her fashion label, CuteCircuit, with Ryan Genz in 2004. In addition to creating T-shirts and dresses that illuminate in natural light, and frocks and skirts with LED light-up designs, the brand has made a mirror clutch bag which connects to your smartphone to display messages and a black-tie Twitter dress which showcases real-time Tweets. CuteCircuit designs have been displayed in museums around the globe and we suspect we'll all be wearing them (there are also designs for men available) sometime in the not-too-distant future.

5. Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson (@kindcampaign)
Determined to put a stop to girl-on-girl bullying (in school, online and everywhere), Kind Campaign founders Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson created award-winning documentary, "Finding Kind." In addition to speaking at schools across the US on the subject, the charity aims to combat online bullying at its source, with a website that offers girls the opportunity to share their personal stories of bullying. The Kind Campaign site also gives girls the opportunity to apologise to other girls and allows them to send Kind Card emails and sign a pledge to unite in kindness. #GOALS

NEXT: Young UK Activists Beyond The Headlines »

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Photo Credit: Allen Berezovski/WireImage (Tess Holliday); Steve Jennings/Getty Images for PANDORA (lead image)