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Celebrating Women’s History Month with Gen Z Change-makers

Women change makers at the forefront of social justice movements throughout American history, from suffrage to civil and women’s rights and equality,

The environment, LGBTQIA+ women’s rights, and gun violence are concerns for female Gen Zers, according to FOCUS Generation Next 2022 report. Six in 10 feel negative about the direction of the USA”
— Tasha Mitchell

NEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, March 13, 2023 / -- Women changemakers have been at the forefront of social justice movements throughout American history, from the suffrage movement to the civil rights movement, the fight for women’s rights and equality, the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights, and more. As we celebrate the extraordinary achievements of women during Women’s History Month, we must acknowledge that much work remains to be done.

Today, the environment, LGBTQIA+ allyship, women’s rights, and gun violence are among the top concerns for female Gen Zers, according to our recent FOCUS Generation Next 2022 report. Disappointingly, nearly 6 in 10 (58%) female Gen Zers feel negative about the direction of this country, in contrast with just 4 in 10 of their male counterparts who feel this way. That’s why we at Horowitz want to take this opportunity to recognize a new generation of young women who inherited the social justice issues and are at the forefront, championing change and fighting for a better tomorrow.

Gen Z – a generation that has never known a world without the internet – is quite adept at making their voices heard online to support causes. During the pandemic, teenagers like Olivia Julianna used their social media platforms to raise awareness about social justice issues affecting young people. Julianna began her activism on TikTok (@0liviajulianna) with posts on the 2020 Presidential election and political issues affecting her home state of Texas.

When asked about what drives her advocacy, Julianna said, “Another big part of who I am is putting all of my identities forward. I am a young Texas woman. But I am also Latina. I'm openly queer. I'm diabetic. I'm disabled. I am a plus-size woman. Every single one of those aspects plays into the work that I do because I experience a barrage of harassment. It happens on a daily basis, and it happens not just from normal people, but from elected officials and politicians.”

The Gen Z TikToker quickly gained an online reputation for calling out elected leaders, like Texas Governor Greg Abbott for signing anti-abortion legislation, in her viral videos and posts. With over 1 million followers across social media, Julianna empowers her audience to take action. When congressman Matt Gaetz tweeted a photo of Julianna, 18 at the time, with body-shaming remarks, the abortion rights activist used the viral moment on Twitter to raise over $2 million for abortion access in the states with bans.

Julianna is among the three quarters (75%) of female Gen Zers who are concerned about women’s rights in the U.S., and six in 10 (59%) who worry about where this country is going politically, as reported in the FOCUS Generation Next 2022 study. She also understands the power of social media to inform and energize her peers: According to the Horowitz study, social media is the #1 platform Gen Z uses for news and to know what is going on in the world (80% use it, compared to 28% who watch the news on TV). In her role as the Director of Politics & Government Affairs for Gen-Z for Change, Julianna works with youth activists on using social media to drive civic engagement among youth voters and raise money for causes, and she supports political candidates who are strong advocates for progressive change.

The water crisis began in Flint, Michigan, in 2014, when the city changed its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The toxic lead-contaminated water made its way into homes across the city, forcing residents to rely on bottled water for everyday needs. That’s when Mari Copeny, eight years-old, wrote a letter to former President Barack Obama about the public health crisis plaguing her community. Obama made a visit and had a chance to witness the devastating impact of the toxic water and declared a federal state of emergency and approved $100 million relief.

Known as “Little Miss Flint,” Copeny launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for bottled water. To reduce plastic pollution, the youth activist partnered with Hydroviv to supply families with lead water filters. Copeny’s environmental justice advocacy is in alignment with the findings from our recent FOCUS Generation Next 2022 report: Nearly 7 in 10 (65%) 13-24 year-olds list the environment and what it will be like when they are older as one of their top concerns.

More than 1 in 4 (28%) Gen Zers identify as LGBTQIA+, and 3% identify as non-binary, according to our FOCUS Generation Next 2022 report, and even among straight, cis-gendered Gen Z, there is a growing understanding that both gender and sexuality are fluid and exist on a spectrum, according to a joint study conducted by Horowitz Research with #SeeHer. The ACLU is tracking 385 anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S., including 35 in Oklahoma, 34 in Missouri, 29 in Iowa and Texas, 26 in Tennessee, 24 in Mississippi, among others.

Keating has been taking a stand for gender equality since elementary school. With support from her family and community, she advocates for inclusive school policies and lobbies for gender equality at the Washington State Capitol. As a transgender youth advocate for GenderCool, Keating shares testimonials before corporate and media audiences around the country to raise awareness about the importance of gender equality in the workplace.

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