One growing up in war-torn Pakistan, and the other in the Hollywood limelight makes for an unconventional comparability, yet there dominates a remarkable resemblance between two of the most influential young females on the planet, Kendall Jenner and Malala Yousafzai.
Though the women may be worlds apart in terms of education, upbringing, notoriety, and almost every other noticeable circumstance, both possess an innate desire to support women in their right to a voice, in a world where public attention has benefited one, and harmed the other.
Jenner is a 20-year-old American fashion model and television personality who gained publicity originally for appearing in the E! reality television show ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’, an opportunity provided by a democratic society in the U.S., and has since established herself as a self-made entrepreneur and high fashion model. Yousafzai is an 18-year-old Pakistani activist for female education who was shot in the head and hospitalized for writing a report under a pseudonym for the BBC at age 11, in which she revealed detailed accounts of her life as a female under a restrictive and suppressive Taliban occupation. The youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner was denied a formal education due to her country’s social, economic, legal and political conditions, but this has only driven her to fight for education and democracy, conditions that have allowed Kendall to thrive.
Both females have spent their young lives urging women to be expressive, to use the power of speech to transform the world in which they live. Through education as a fundamental aspect of understanding, they want females to dream big, and work together to promote learning rights for women.
In September 2015, Jenner dressed as a suffragette in a campaign for Rock The Vote, a non-profit organization that she has supported since she turned 18-years-old, promoting voting participation among Millennials. She understands that “it hasn’t always been that easy, especially for women,” it hasn’t been long since women in the U.S. were given the right to vote, yet the millennial generation aren’t taking advantage of what we would consider today a basic human right. “Everyday we vote, we’re able to express our opinions online with ‘Likes’ and hashtags,” she says. Yousafzai doesn’t have that right. Nor do the women from her country still living under the restrictions of Taliban rule, depriving them of that basic liberty.
In Yousafzai’s world women are meant to be neither seen nor heard, the very essence of what has created Jenner’s career, a voice born out of the multiple images that we know as the social media era. Her 50.1 million strong following has grown by showcasing a behind-the-scenes account of her life as a fashion model. This has made a strong impression on the fashion industry as it increases her ability to drive brand recognition; Time magazine has named Jenner one of the 30 Most Influential Teens of 2014. She uses her status as a platform to express her political views, and regularly participates in feminist themed rallies, such as Chanel’s 2015 event with fellow supermodels Gisele Bundchen and Cara Delevingne.
Neither Jenner nor Yousafzai publicly refer to themselves as ‘feminists’ though, Kendall told the Sunday Times, “I’m not gonna say much because I’d like to be more educated,” whereas Yousafzai states, “Well, I fight for women’s rights, and I believe everyone has equal rights as men have.” She encourages gender equality by advocating for change, for women to amplify their voices, “I am not a lone voice, I am many,“ she says. Her organization, the Malala Fund which was set up in 2013, supports girls to complete 12 years of safe, quality education, empowering women to achieve their potential. Through training and guidance, and hoping for a system in which all people are involved in decision making, voting, is championed.
The Malala Fund’s goal is to enable girls everywhere to achieve a foundational and indispensable education, ‘so that they can achieve their potential and be positive change-makers in their families and communities.’ The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured Yousafzai as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World”. In the same way that Yousafzai advocates for more resources for children to learn, Jenner promotes education on topics that aren’t given much attention in the U.S., sometimes in a light-hearted manner, such as a recent Instagram post from the film Dead Poets Society, that tells the story of a teacher who inspires his students to learn through the use of poetry.
In differing ways, and most likely to differing audiences, the two highly influential female crusaders of the 21st century are promoting active change in our education rights and systems. It is the less obvious fundamental similarities of the two that has the power to influence the millennials, with a united call for the young to use their given voice to demand what’s right. Their lifestyles may be two worlds apart, yet they live one another’s counterpart for a radical transformation in a universal right to a female voice.