Meet twin activists, journalists and filmmakers, Maryam and Nivaal.
For more than 10 years, Maryam and Nivaal Rehman (the co-founders of The World With MNR), have been activists. They began their journey in their village in Pakistan, and at their own school in Toronto, Canada and have gone from inspiring girls in Pakistan to continue their education and delivering speeches to young people in Canada to advocating for girls around the world and representing their voices in front of world leaders at global forums like the G7 Summit. Read more about their journey below.
Maryam and Nivaal were eight years old when they first became activists for girls' education. They were on a family trip to Pakistan, at the school that their grandmother had donated her inherited land to build in their village, and met the girls who studied there. The girls told them they would quit school when they reached grade five because they would have to work to support their families. Maryam and Nivaal began working with the girls since then, and through empowering workshops, speaking to their parents and donating school supplies to them inspired them to continue their education. In 2015, they learned that some of the girls actually went on to high school. They continue to work with the girls in their village to uplift, support, and empower them in their education journey.
While Maryam and Nivaal worked with the girls in their village in Pakistan during family trips to the country over their lifetime, they continued to be leaders and activists for various causes in their local community back in Canada. They also led fundraising efforts for various causes at their school that supported organizations all over the world. In their final year of middle school, they fundraised for the Imran Khan Foundation and delivered the donation to Imran Khan in person during their trip to Pakistan in 2015. In high school, they were the leaders of eight social justice-based clubs including Youth In Action, Girl Up, Model UN, Students Together Against Racism and Environmental Council to name a few.
Maryam and Nivaal have worked with various organizations including the UN Foundation's Girl Up Campaign, the Malala Fund, and the David Suzuki Foundation to support their efforts through advocacy and storytelling. They have conducted interviews with world leaders like Malala Yousafzai, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Dr. David Suzuki and Madame Christine Lagarde to name a few, all through collaborations with these organizations.
Maryam and Nivaal initially launched "The World With MNR" as a YouTube channel in 2016, as a platform to share the work they were doing to change the world, and inspire others to do the same. The World With MNR was meant to bridge the gap between the problems that exist in the world, and what viewers can do to help. Through their channel, they covered many events including the 2-day Social Good Summit by Mashable and the United Nations in New York City, WE Day Toronto and events with the Blue Dot movement. After The World With MNR evolved into a non-profit in 2019 (now called the MNR Foundation), the twins continue to share the work that they are doing through storytelling on their social media, as well as writing on their own blog and various online platforms.
Through their YouTube channel, Maryam and Nivaal have launched several documentaries highlighting important issues in collaboration with organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation. In 2018, they got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become Disney Filmmakers for the Dream Big Princess Project. They represented Canada in the project, and were two of 21 girls chosen from around the world. In 2019, they launched a documentary on girls' education in Pakistan which highlights the work that is being done to improve the state of girls' education in their village, and around Pakistan as a whole.
We were advocates with the Malala Fund during the G7 Finance and Development Ministers' meetings in Whistler, BC in 2018. We had the opportunity to interview world leaders including World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and the Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau. We shared the importance of girls' education, and asked leaders to invest $1.3 billion in girls' education. At the official G7 summit in Charlevoix the following week, the leaders decided to invest $3.8 billion, due to the efforts of many different activists, organizations like the Malala Fund, and our meetings. We also advocated at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. We visited the House of Representatives and the Senate to meet with several senators and congressmen/women to advocate for the “Keeping Girls in School Act”.
Dream Big Princess Campaign
Women Belong Everywhere
Purposeful travel and meaningful storytelling.
Don't Wear Pink and Other Lies
Girl Up canada
We have been club leaders at our school's Girl Up club for 4 years, and served as the Girl Up Canada Coalition leaders for 2 years. In these roles, we have helped organize several women and girl-empowerment conferences across the Greater Toronto Area. These include events like a screening of the film He Named Me Malala, Women's Day conferences, Girl Up Toronto Summits and Girl's Night In events. All of these events have featured inspiring speakers, empowering workshops, and networking opportunities for girls in Canada. We also help facilitate Girl Up clubs across the country, and fundraise for Girl Up's initiatives supporting adolescent girls around the world.
We have been advocating for environmental rights in Canada with the David Suzuki Foundation's Blue Dot Campaign. Canada is one of the top countries for greenhouse gas emissions. Also, while Canadians have the right to know about the pollutants that are released into their environment, they don't have the right to be protected from them. With the Blue Dot Campaign, we are fighting for the Right to a Healthy Environment to be included in Canada's Constitution. It will give all Canadians, especially indigenous communities, their right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water and eat healthy food. This will also ensure that companies are held accountable, and Canada's global negative environmental impact is reduced.
We volunteer with an organic gardening initiative in our community, which plants fresh vegetables for food banks in our community. We believe that it is so important for organic gardening initiatives to be developed, so that people in our communities can get access to safe food. Our volunteer work was done with our local Blue Dot group, and we helped do tasks like weeding and harvesting. We also did a presentation about this initiative as our final project in our civics class. To engage the students, we worked with them to plant a vegetable garden at our school, and teach them about the benefits of eating organic food, not using pesticides, and adopting a vegan lifestyle.
We worked with the Blue Dot Campaign to develop a teacher's toolkit that students would learn from in Science, English and Social Science classes from Grades 7 through 12. It is so important for students to learn more about the environment within their classes, and how they can take action or get involved. We were developing the lessons alongside other teachers, Blue Dot volunteers and education experts. This curriculum was then shared by Blue Dot to teachers across the country who could use it as a resource in their classrooms. Here is the PDF file of the toolkit:
Maryam and Nivaal are both passionate writers who have used writing as a medium to share their story and the causes they care about through articles for digital publications, a book anthology, and more. You can find their list of published works below.
This is the must-read book for every woman.
"Brilliant, hysterical, truthful and real. These essays illuminate the path for our future female leaders." - Reese Witherspoon
MNR joined 52 women who were asked: what does the F word mean to you? The result is extraordinary.
In an innovative blog series for Huffington Post Canada, Maryam wrote a series of blogs highlighting some of the 17 global goals for sustainable development.
The series highlighted organizations working to make those goals become a reality, and included ways for readers to get involved and take action.
In their first blog for the Malala Fund, Maryam and Nivaal Rehman speak about their experience interviewing their Gender Equality Heroes, PM Justin Trudeau and Malala Yousafzai.
They highlight the work that they have done as activists, their dreams for the future, and how this experience impacted them.
In this field diary for the Malala Fund, Maryam and Nivaal speak about their experiences joining the Malala Fund in Whistler at the G7 Finance and Development Ministers Meetings.
They talk about interviewing world leaders days before they made important decisions about girls’ futures at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix. They represented girls all over the world when they asked leaders to invest $1.3 Billion into Girls' Education.
Maryam and Nivaal have worked globally for causes like girls’ education, climate justice, gender equality and inclusivity. Through their non-profit, The World With MNR, they use advocacy, storytelling and development to take action and inspire others to do the same.
They are using their Perspectives platform to share the stories of the women that inspire them, through engaging interviews with leaders, activists, and role models.
In this article for As Told By Women, Maryam and Nivaal Share their experiences while filming their first feature-length documentary film on girls' education in Pakistan called "Destined to Soar."
They highlight their journey leading up to the creation of this film, and also what it was like to go back to where their activism began nearly 10 years ago, and work with girls in their village in Pakistan
Governor General's Caring Canadian Award (2015)
Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers (2015)
Honours - Grade 9-12 (2016-2019)
Being ME Rising Muslimah Under 21 Award (2017)
Positive Pakistan Social Media Influencer Award (2018)
Canada 150 Youth Champion Award (2017)
Whitby Celebrating Youth Award (2018)
Myrah McLennan Humanitarian Award (2019)
Sinclair Secondary School Valedictorian (2019)
Pakistan Red Crescent Society International
Women's Day Award (2019)
William and Nona Heaslip Scholarship (2020 - 2023)