There is something inspiring about young people and their belief in their power to change the world. Where older people talk about changing workplaces or, at a stretch, governments, their younger counterparts have their sights on a much bigger picture.
"As a young female leader, I am motivated by service to my community and service to the world, and the pursuit of a more equal and inclusive world," says Caitlin Figueiredo, a United Nations Task Force member recognised by former First Lady Michelle Obama as a Global Changemaker for Gender Equality and a 2016 winner of the Young Leader category in The Australian Financial Review's 100 Women of Influence awards.
This year's 100 Women of Influence awards, presented by Qantas, will be announced on September 4.
A similar desire to make a difference gets Rosie Thomas out of bed each morning. Thomas is a co-founder and CEO of Project Rockit, a youth-driven movement against cyber bullying, and another AFR young woman of influence. She says her impetus is "anger with the status quo and a relentless belief in a world where kindness and respect thrive over bullying, hate and prejudice".
"Since I can remember, what's really driven me to stand up and lead has been that horrible feeling in my gut that something isn't right," Thomas says. "I've had to dig deep, battle self doubt and build the confidence and skills to stand up – in business and in social change – but it's been so worth it."
Young people are standing up for what they believe in. Take the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who organised the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence. Or the young women around the world igniting movements of change, demanding that their rights be respected by men and institutions. They show that with a voice and a belief, anything is possible.
"You're never too early to start," says Melissa Abu-Gazaleh, founder and managing director of the Top Blokes Foundation and another young leader recognised as an AFRwoman of influence. "There are always going to be learnings and mistakes and challenges and you're never going to feel ready. Often they say you're the leaders of tomorrow but you can be the leaders of today."
Abu-Gazaleh founded her organisation 11 years ago as a way to tackle young men's anti-social and risk-taking behaviours and to engage them in the community. She has since noticed a shift in the social consciousness of the young men she has set out to influence.
"For example, when it comes to talking about domestic violence, they know the 101 stuff around it, they know the different types of violence and the factors that can lead to it," she says. "They have an opinion about it which for us is so exciting as we want them to be well informed and have the confidence and leadership to step up and be change agents."
These influencers have high expectations not only for themselves but for those around them. "I expect others to not be bystanders when it comes to injustice," says Figueiredo from London, where she is set to receive an award from the Queen for services to Australia in gender, education and advocacy work.
"I expect others to be kind, respectful and to use their privilege to unlock opportunities for others and find new ways of doing things."
Thomas says: "Big or small, we all have a responsibility to positively impact those around us. Kindness shouldn't just be celebrated, it should be expected."
It is these high hopes causing an apparent power shift in generations. Thomas says this shift is evident in young people's rejection of labels and the way they are "refusing to be defined by social constructs that are designed to limit them or hold them back".
But she sees dialogue between generations as a powerful tool for change. "My older mentors share their wisdom, skills, talents and experiences from years of living on this planet, and my younger mentors inspire me to take risks, speak up and hold me accountable to my hopes and optimism for the world," she says.
Figueiredo does not see power shifting between genders as much as she would like. She founded the movement Girls Takeover Parliament to get more young women interested in and engaged with politics, and the organisation Jasiri Australia that aims to develop the fearlessness in women and survivors of violence.
She believes communities can be transformed by providing platforms for people from minority backgrounds to show off their skills and knowledge at a leadership level.
"As a young leader I am focused on deconstructing unequal power structures and finding alternative ways of doing things," she says. "Because there is nothing more frustrating than having leaders or people that are all talk and no action … I'm able to empower and influence others by showing that they have the power and capacity to enact change."