Turn on the news or scroll through Twitter and you’ll get just a small glimpse of all the issues affecting our world right now, from violence in our streets to climate change on every continent. But who can keep up with it all? Chances are, you do realize that your biggest problems (like memorizing math theorems) would be considered a privilege to girls in many other parts of the world. You probably want to know more and you want to get involved…but don’t have a clue where to start.
This is called a knowledge gap, and it’s a huge obstacle facing teens today: The issues are big, complicated and sometimes scary; the resources can be conflicting and difficult to decipher. But according to author, activist and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, it’s crucial that young people start getting involved now. The first step in making a difference? Becoming informed about the issues and why they matter.
In her new book It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going (Penguin, $19), Chelsea offers a comprehensive and straightforward overview of some of the biggest challenges facing our generation right now. We sat down with her to learn how girls can make a difference, starting today.
GL: Why is it so important that girls are informed and involved?
Chelsea Clinton: It’s the title of my book and it couldn’t be more true: It’s your world. I mean, sure, it’s my world and your parents’ world, too, but girls are the future of it. You can just let things happen to you and let other people decide—or you can shape what happens today and what happens tomorrow. You have the power to build the world you want to see: in your own home and your own neighborhood and, more broadly, in your country and every country.
That’s something we don’t hear a lot! We can’t vote, we can’t drive, there’s so much we’re told we’re too young to do. But you’re saying we aren’t just able, we’re empowered to start taking a stance on really big, really important issues.
Yes! Absolutely. I started to feel I could make a difference when I was 11 or 12 years old. It helped set me a course for the rest of my life. I felt that if I really understood what a challenge was, and could come up with a potential solution, then I had an obligation to try to make a difference. And I wouldn’t believe it so profoundly today if I hadn’t started engaging with the world as a kid.
So basically, there’s no time like the present—and the actions we take now will affect and shape the role we play in our world for the rest of our lives. But before you understood the big picture, how did you realize you had a duty to take on the world?
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October - November 2015