Young people have often been the conscience of their countries, and students have historically been activists. But we're especially impressed by young people today because they not only protest against things, but also are active in support of projects. Our generation of college students, for example, often protested against apartheid in South Africa. Today's young people are more likely to raise money to keep South African students in school, or to provide microloans so that they can start self-sustaining small businesses. The revolution in social entrepreneurship—starting social ventures to fill a niche—has made activism far more effective, and young people especially embody this change.
In Half the Sky
, we cite many examples of young Americans supporting women and girls around the world—and that's because there are so many examples of superb philanthropy by kids, even middle school students. We hope you'll find those examples as inspiring as we did, and we hope you'll try to do something similar with a group of your friends.
Not everybody can afford to, but if you have the opportunity try to, go and volunteer in a developing country for a few months. Frankly, you'll learn far more about the world volunteering in India to teach English to brothel children at a place like New Light shelter, or working with the Edna Maternity Hospital in Somaliland, than you ever will exploring Western European countries that are relatively similar to America, such as France and Italy.
So fire up that idealism, and get engaged in this issue of empowering women and girls around the world—for this is truly the cause of our time!