Sofia Carson seems to do it all. Not only is she known for her roles in Descendants and Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, but she also graced the 2023 Oscars stage for a performance of the song “Applause” with Diane Warren.
Besides music and acting, Carson is also a strong advocate for social justice, specifically gender equity, and consistently uses her platform to empower women and highlight injustice.
On Sept. 23, 2023, Carson will be taking to the stage at Global Citizen Festival in New York City to do what she does best: performing and calling the crowd to action for gender equity. She will be joined on the iconic Great Lawn of Central Park by headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Jung Kook, and Anitta, as well as Conan Gray, and D-Nice. Stray Kids had been set to perform but due to an unforeseen accident, we will be joined by 3RACHA, which features three members of Stray Kids, Changbin, Bang Chan, and Han.
The festival will unite Global Citizens, artists, activists, world leaders, philanthropists, and private sector leaders with one collective mission: End Extreme Poverty NOW. The Global Citizen Festival campaign is timed to coincide with the UN General Assembly, and takes aim at the key issues driving extreme poverty: the climate emergency, gender equity, and the global food crisis.
Here are just a few times Carson has shown her commitment to empowering women and girls — the closest thing we have to a silver bullet in the mission to end extreme poverty .
1. She is a UNICEF ambassador advocating for girls’ empowerment.
Carson was named a UNICEF Ambassador in 2020, joining the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Selena Gomez, and P!NK. While Carson hopes to build a more equitable work for all youth, her advocacy with UNICEF focuses on girls’ empowerment and ensuring that every girl has the opportunity to fulfill her potential.
Before becoming an ambassador, Carson worked with UNICEF for three years, including a visit to Recife, Brazil in 2019 to bear witness to the organization’s work. During her visit, Carson met directly with youth in the area and learned about UNICEF’s work around preventing sexual violence, gender inequality, and early motherhood, all of which make it harder for girls to continue their education.
“Today, I bore witness to the lifesaving power of an education,” Carson said at the time. “I embraced, I held, and I was forever changed by the young women whose lives have been saved thanks to UNICEF and their partners here in Brazil. They are the history-making leaders who will fight until the equality of the sexes is an indisputable reality and violence against women and children is obliterated.”
2. She funds a scholarship to inspire young female musicians to pursue their dreams.
Carson became the face and funding behind the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation’s Prodigy Scholarship for 2022. Every year, the scholarship goes toward a young music student who demonstrates a passion for Latin music but faces severe financial hardships.
The aspiring musician is awarded $200,000 to fully fund a bachelor’s degree at Berklee College of Music in the US.
“It is such a privilege to witness the life-changing mission of this foundation through the power of music and education,” Carson told Billboard. “To be able to use my voice and my platform in this way is the most important thing I can do. I couldn’t be more grateful to be part of this.”
Carson became the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation’s first global ambassador in 2019. The foundation is dedicated not only to providing educational opportunities for future Latin music creators, but also to closing the gender gap in the music industry.
“That’s also the hope we have with this scholarship,” Carson added. “That it will inspire young women around the world who have dreams of pursuing a career in music to actually fearlessly pursue those dreams.”
3. She dedicated a song to ‘all the women of the world and all the loud voices of change.’
Carson’s 2022 hit “LOUD” is an anthem for women’s empowerment. Its lyrics aim to inspire women and changemakers around the world to speak their truths: “Goodbye to living a lie, 'cause that got me nowhere in life. Don't try to calm me down, I was made to be loud.”
In an interview with Women InPop, Carson explains the message behind her song: “Being loud doesn’t mean that we have to scream — it just means that we are unafraid to voice our opinions, unafraid to make change.”
Diane Warren’s Oscar-nominated song, “Applause” on which Carson performed, meanwhile, is also dedicated to empowering women. Part of the soundtrack for the film Tell It Like a Woman, the hit includes lyrics like, “Give yourself some applause, you deserve it. Give yourself some respect, 'cause you've earned it.”
4. She called on men to do their part at the HeForShe Summit.
Along with world leaders, CEOs, and activists, Carson attended the HeForShe Summit in 2019. There, she called for action against gender inequality, specifically for men to stand up and “make equality a reality.” She also performed an acoustic version of “LOUD” to close the event.
5. She urged the US Congress to reduce barriers to education for adolescent girls.
In 2019, Carson wrote an op-ed pushing Congress to pass the Keeping Girls in School Act. The bill called on the US government to take action in decreasing barriers to education for adolescent girls in developing countries. These barriers often include child marriage, violence, and poverty.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There is no stronger force in this world than an empowered and educated woman,” Carson wrote to begin her op-ed.
The bill ended up passing the House of Representatives in 2020.
6. She co-hosted ‘Our America: Fifty50’ in celebration of Title IX.
The 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools in the US, took place in June 2022. In celebration of the event, Carson joined as one of the hosts of the hour-long special Our America: Fifty50.
“Fifty50 to me means justice,” Carson said in an ABC video. “To be fair and to be just means to not judge based on gender, or ethnicity, or identity, but to judge based on who we are as human beings.”
You can join Sofia Carson in standing up for empowerment and education for all women and girls everywhere by taking action as part of this year’s Global Citizen Festival campaign (and beyond!). Head here to find actions you can take right now for gender equity. You can also head to the Global Citizen app to take Sofia Carson’s Sprint and become a champion of gender equity.