Maryam and Nivaal Rehman became activists when they were just eight years old. The now 18-year-old twins have since worked in their local and global community for causes including girls’ education, climate justice, gender equality and inclusivity. Through their non-profit, The World With MNR, their YouTube channel and social media platform, they are using advocacy, storytelling and development to take action and inspire others to do the same.
We started “The World With MNR” because… We wanted to create an organization through which we make a difference, and also inspire others to do the same. We fight for the causes we care about like Gender Equality, Climate Justice and Inclusivity, while also telling the stories of the people we have worked with and inspire others to take action for these causes as well.
Our proudest accomplishment is… Becoming filmmakers for the Walt Disney Company and the UN Girl Up Campaign #DreamBigPrincess Project. Our film, which featured MP Celina Caesar Chavannes, was seen by millions of girls around the world and the project unlocked a $1 million donation from Disney to Girl Up, supporting its incredible leadership programs for girls worldwide. We are still inspired by all the films created as part of this campaign, our fellow filmmakers, and the impact we were all able to have.
Our boldest move to date was… Finishing high school a semester early to return to Pakistan and film our documentary. Throughout high school, we always wanted to create a film about girls’ education in Pakistan, but did not have a chance to visit Pakistan to film it because of our school commitments. To pursue this dream, we worked with our guidance counsellor and made a plan through which we could complete our required high school credits in advance, and spend our final semester of high school in Pakistan to create our film “Destined To Soar.”
We surprise people when we tell them… Our age. Ever since we began to attend conferences, summits and events globally, we have often found that we are the youngest people in the room. As we introduce ourselves or share our story, the one thing that surprises people the most is how old we are.
Our most surprising interview was… with Madame Christine Lagarde at the G7 Finance and Development Ministers’ Meetings in 2018. We ran into her as we arrived at the event venue in the morning and she stopped her whole delegation to ask us if we were the twins who were going to interview her later that day. When we spoke to her again prior to our interview and told her our story, she would fill in different moments from our lives like when we worked with girls in our village in Pakistan, because she had already learned so much about us before the interview!
Our biggest obstacle was… Finding the balance between our school, extracurriculars, and our activism. We wanted to make sure we were giving all of our energy to our school work, the eight clubs we were the leaders of in high school, and our activism work, which often included travelling worldwide or spending countless hours working while we were still in Canada. It left us with little time for self-care and ourselves, which is what made finding the balance between all of these parts of our lives so difficult.
We overcame it by… developing a strict schedule, and sticking with it. We also had the immense support of our teachers and our parents, who would work with us to help meet the needs of sometimes overlapping commitments and help us organize our time more efficiently, without wearing ourselves out too much.
Our most memorable interview was… Our interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Malala Yousafzai during Malala’s Girl Power Trip in 2017. It was our first time conducting a Live interview, and we were nervous, but both PM Trudeau and Malala were so kind and down-to-Earth so all our nervousness went away. During that time, we realized how everyone is equally important in this fight for gender equality and everyone can make a difference.
Our best advice from a mentor was… Self-doubt and “negative self-talk” is part of an outdated program in our brains which thinks it is keeping us safe by keeping us small. So whenever you are doubting yourself, know that it is not you talking, but it is that outdated program in your brain, who you can choose to not listen to. This advice was given to us by Julie Carrier, who is an incredible role model for us, and learning this helped us overcome self-doubt when approaching different dreams of ours.
Our advice for other young people with causes they care about is… To start by taking action in their local community, for one cause they care about. The world has so many big problems and it is easy to feel like you can’t do anything to solve them, but by starting somewhere locally, you can make a big difference and open up doors to expand your impact.
The message we would like to tell the whole world is… Your dreams are worth pursuing. If you work hard and stay dedicated, you will find that the universe has a way of helping you realize your dreams. It may take a while, but eventually, you will be rewarded for your hard work with your dreams either coming true exactly how you envisioned them, or in an unexpected, but equally exciting way.
If you googled us, you still wouldn’t know… How to tell the difference between us 🙂
We stay inspired by… Reading books about people who we look up to.
The future excites us because… We like to dream big, and are excited by the idea that someday, those dreams will come true.
Our next step is… Pursuing bigger and bolder dreams.