20 Girl Names Inspired by Young Women Leaders

Wendy Robinson | Mar 24, 2020 Pregnancy
20 Girl Names Inspired by Young Women Leaders
Image: twenty20.com/SeanZ


Sometimes it can be scary to watch the news and to think about the future. Climate change is real and makes our environmental future seem at risk. Our health care system is a mess and care is way too expensive for many families. The #MeToo movement has shown that sexual harassment and assault is still an issue that far too many women have to deal with. With all of this to consider, it can be downright anxiety-inducing to think about bringing a daughter into the world, right? 

But, even as things are scary, there is always reason for hope. This is especially true when it comes to looking at the next generation of smart, fearless, and totally inspiring young women who are stepping up to lead. With social media savvy, a willingness to stand up for what is right, and the brains to make game-changing decisions, young women around the globe are the best chance we have for making the world a better place. What better way to honor these women then to consider their names for the next generation of strong girls? So, consider this list not only a great resource for inspiring girl names, but also a shout-out to the young women who represent our best hopes for a better future. 



    We can't have a list of inspiring young women leaders and not include Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. Greta, whose name comes from the German for "pearl," is the face of young environmentalism. Her name would be a great choice for parents who want a daughter who isn't afraid to speak truth to power. 

  • EMMA


    Emma is more than just the current most popular girl name choice in the US. It's also the name of gun law activist Emma Gonzales, who became a vocal activist after surviving a mass shooting at her Florida high school. She is aiming to make the world safer for herself and children everywhere, which is an amazing legacy. 

  • MARI 


    Mari is the Welsh version of the name Mary and is a name that has been growing in popularity, perhaps influenced by the activism of Amariyanna Copeny. This young leader, who goes by the name Mari, is also known as "Little Miss Flint" and has spent years bringing attention to the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. 



    The Greek name Alexandria is a classic. The first term Congresswoman from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an already iconic voice for the progressive movement. We love that this name obviously works well for a grown-up leader while the nicknames including Alex and Alli are perfect for a younger girl. 



    Jameela is a name that means "beautiful, elegant, or lovely," which are all words we'd use to describe actress and activist Jameela Jamil. This British star was perfection on the show The Good Place but she's also an outspoken advocate for body positivity. We love that she isn't afraid to call out the sexist beauty standards of Hollywood while keeping it real on Twitter. 

  • YARA


    Actress Yara Shahidi is well known for her roles on Blackish and the spin-off Grownish but she's also a Harvard student who is growing into activist promoting youth voting. The name Yara has Arabic roots and means "water lady" or "small butterfly." 



    Yes, she's not a working royal anymore, but that doesn't make Meghan Markle any less of an inspiring leader in our book. The Duchess of Sussex made waves when she became the first biracial member of the British royal family, but we love that she is also the most outspoken feminist the monarchy has ever seen. 



    Laverne, a Latin name meaning "of the spring," peaked in popularity in the 1920s but we think it could be due for a comeback. Not only is it similar to some of the other old-school names regaining popularity, it is also getting more attention thanks to the gorgeous actress Laverne Cox who is also an inspiring trans rights leader. 



    One of the rising stars of the Democratic party is lawyer and former member of the Georgia House of Representatives Stacey Abrams. Abrams, who lost a close and contested race for the governor of Georgia in 2018, is smart, media savvy, and has been rumored to be on the short-list for a vice-presidential nod in 2020. 



    Simone is a beautiful French name "hearkening" and is frequently associated with Simone Biles, who might just be the greatest gymnast of all time. Beyond her crazy skills, which we hope to see a lot of in the upcoming Olympics, she has been a vocal supporter and advocate for her fellow gymnasts who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of team doctors. She's strong in more ways than one!



    Jacinda, a Spanish and Portuguese name that means "hyacinth," is a pretty name choice for those looking for a less common flower name. It's also the name of the 40th prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. Ardern, who was only 37 when she became prime minister, has steered her country through difficult times, including a mass shooting, with grace and empathy. She is considered one of the most powerful women in the world. 



    No list of inspiring women, young or old, would be complete without the greatest female athlete of all time: Serena Williams. In addition to being a wildly successful tennis player and a doting mom to her young daughter, she's also been a vocal advocate for maternal health care and pay equity for women. 



    Helena is a beautiful Greek name meaning "bright, shining light", which makes it a totally perfect name for Ecuadorian climate change and indigenous rights activist Helena Gualinga. This 17-year-old has been fighting against climate change caused by large oil companies and has protested alongside Greta Thunberg. 

  • PENNY 


    Penny is such a cute name! Traditionally a nickname for Penelope, this name is cheerful and charming. One emerging leader with the name Penny is YouTuber Penny Tovar who has recently harnessed her online popularity to advocate for sustainability in the fashion and beauty spaces, along with other climate change and vegan issues. 



    The world's youngest prime minister is Finland's Sanna Marin, who assumed the position in December 2019, at the age of 34! This pretty Scandinavian name is a variation on the name Susanna and means "lily flower." We think it could also mean "amazingly accomplished young woman!"

  • TOMI


    Tomi is a fresh name that has traditionally been considered masculine but is in transition to a gender neutral or feminine name in the US. One young leader named Tomi is the Nigerian American author Tomi Adeyemi, writer of the bestselling Children of Blood and Bone series. These books are paving the way for more diversity and representation in the young adult science fiction and fantasy category and Tomi has been vocal about the importance of telling new stories so all readers can see themselves as heroes. 



    The US women's national soccer team is filled with talented athletes, including midfielder Carli Lloyd. These women aren't just phenomenal soccer players, they are also vocal advocates for equal pay which makes them amazing role models, too. Carli, a variant on the name Carla, is said to mean "free woman" which is basically a perfect meaning for a fearless leader. 



    Elaine is a name with Greek roots that means "shining light." A great example of an Elaine that is a shining light in her field is Elaine Welteroth, the current editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue. Since taking over that role in 2016, she's given the magazine new life through outspoken political coverage and a redefined and modern energy. 

  • EDDA


    Edda Hamar is a 27-year-old who has been recognized by the United Nations as a world leader in promoting sustainability. She's focused on ethical and sustainable fashion, so she wants to help save the world but not sacrifice looking fabulous to do it. The name Edda is uncommon in the US and means "with clear goals" which is a perfect meaning for a world changer!

  • LUCY


    The musical Six, about the unlucky wives of English King Henry VIII, is one of the newest hits to open on Broadway. In addition to having an amazing soundtrack, it also has the youngest female director to open a Broadway musical, 26-year-old Lucy Moss. For parents hoping to have a daughter who'll take the lead on making art, Lucy might be a smart name option!

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