Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai have spent years fighting for a better world, and now, they might be joining forces. On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the two youth activists, who have fought fiercely for environmental justice and human rights, met for the first time at the University of Oxford ahead of an upcoming school climate strike. This photo of Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai hanging out will inspire you, because what better way to spend time with your friends than planning revolution? The bar has officially been raised, everyone.
According to the BBC, Thunberg is currently on a trip to the United Kingdom in order to participate in a youth strike for climate in Bristol on Friday, Feb. 28. On Tuesday, Feb. 25, a few days before the strike, Thunberg traveled to Lady Margaret Hall, one of Oxford's constituent colleges, where Yousafzai is currently a senior. During her visit to Oxford, The Guardian reported that Thunberg discussed her activism with Yousafzai and also found some time to speak to students about the climate crisis, science, voting, and the limits of protest.
Both Thunberg and Yousafzai have a history of advocating for key global issues. Thunberg, a 17-year-old Swedish activist, has spent the past year and a half organizing and participating in climate strikes, and she has traveled the world to demand accountability from international leaders. Yousafzai, a 22-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner from Pakistan, has been a fierce advocate for women and girls' education ever since she survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012. On Tuesday, after Thunberg and Yousafzai met for the first time, both activists posted photos of their meeting on social media.
On Twitter, Yousafzai described Thunberg as "the only friend I'd skip school for," likely referring to Thunberg's history of organizing school strikes to call attention to climate change. On Instagram, Yousafzai posted the same photo with the caption, "Thank you, @gretathunberg," and a heart emoji. Thunberg also posted photos of herself and Yousafzai on both Twitter and Instagram, noting that "today I met my role model. What else can I say?"
According to HuffPost, Yousafzai may be Thunberg's role model, but Yousafzai has praised Thunberg's work, too. In December 2019, during an appearance on A Little Late with Lilly Singh, Yousafzai said Thunberg was proof that "you don’t have to grow older to change the world, you can change the world right now."
“I think that’s the message that Greta is giving to young people around the world, that your voice, your activism, is so, so crucial for the change you want to see for your future," Yousafzai said.
The meeting between Thunberg and Yousafzai made waves on social media, catching the attention of everyone from actress Priyanka Chopra to former first lady Michelle Obama. This is not the first time that Obama has offered support to these two activists. In December 2019, after President Donald Trump mocked Thunberg after she was named TIME's Person of the Year, Obama publicly told Thunberg in a tweet to "ignore the doubters."
"Don't let anyone dim your light," Obama wrote at the time. "Ignore the doubters and know that millions of people are cheering you on."
Obama has also met Yousafzai on multiple occasions, including at the White House in 2013 and at Obama's London book launch for her memoir, Becoming, in May 2019. In a 2017 letter celebrating Yousafzai's 20th birthday, Obama applauded Yousafzai as "one of my heroes," and pledged to support young leaders like her.
Although the two youth activists achieved public recognition in very different ways, both Thunberg and Yousafzai found themselves in the spotlight at a young age due to their advocacy. As CNN pointed out, they never met until this week but have long been fans of one another, even as they continue to inspire the rest of us.