The World is Female: Young Women in International Development Virtual Event

  • Posted on: 14 May 2021
  • By: minnesotangos
Saturday, June 26, 2021 - 9:00am to 11:00am

A global event to empower women from 15 to 30 years old

This event will promote the importance of women in international development and give the audience a chance to hear from young women from different backgrounds and experiences to talk about their work. This enlightening panel will be moderated by MINN Fellow, Zaynab Abdi (bio below). Register HERE.


Muzoon Almellehan is a youth activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She began campaigning for children’s rights while living in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp. Born in 1998, Muzoon lived in a series of refugee camps for three years after fleeing the conflict in Syria with her family in 2013. In Za’atari, she began working with UNICEF, campaigning for the rights of children, particularly girls, to an education. She accompanied Malala Yousafzai during two visits to the camp. Muzoon has been advocating for children’s rights worldwide ever since and, in 2017, was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF – the youngest ever appointed at that time and the first person who holds refugee status to be appointed. A UNICEF No Lost Generation Champion, Muzoon lives in the UK with her family and is
studying International Politics at university. She continues to work with UNICEF to speak for voiceless children and travels around the world advocating for them whenever she can. She has been awarded a host of honors including being named in the BBC’s 100 influential and inspirational women, TIME’s 30 Most Influential Teens, Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21, and a Glamour Women of the Year Award. She holds an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from Glasgow Caledonian University and a Dresden International Peace Prize for 2020.

Maakwe Cumanzala is a development economics researcher who is passionate about the intersection of economic policy/analysis, gender equality and entrepreneurship. She is committed to the elevation of marginalized voices to bring about the economic empowerment of minority girls and women around the world. Maakwe is currently a graduate student at the Stockholm School of Economics.

Maryam and Nivaal Rehman are Pakistani-Canadian twin activists, journalists and filmmakers based near Toronto, Canada. They are the co-founders of their own nonprofit organization, The World With MNR, which uses storytelling, advocacy and development projects to take action for Climate Justice, Gender Equality and Inclusivity. The twins began their activism journey when they were just 8 years old in their village in Pakistan, and began inspiring girls in their village to continue their education. Some of their most notable work includes their interviews with Nobel-Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousufzai, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, and the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde. In addition, they became filmmakers for Disney and the UN Girl Up Campaign’s “Dream Big Princess” project and released a documentary on girls' education in Pakistan in 2019, and screened it all over the world in spaces like the UN Girls' Education Initiative's 20th Anniversary Celebrations. Their activism has led to recognition in media outlets like Good Morning America and Al Jazeera, and several awards including the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award (now the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers). 

Annita Komugisha is a social change and environment activist with particular interest in clean energy and sustainable development for developing countries. As a member of the East African Community Youth Ambassadors Platform (EACYAP), she believes in equitable development for sustainability. She holds a certificate for Understanding Renewable Energy from the Young African Leaders Initiative Network (YALI) and is a fourth year student of Petroleum Engineering and Environment Management at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Uganda. She is a prolific debater and writer with the MUST Debate Society. She emerged as 1st runner up for best speaker at the 2021 Annual Youth Debate on Environmentally Sustainable Development. She was a participating poet at the 2020 Virtual African Union Consultations, by the Office of the Youth Envoy, for youth inclusion in political, socio-economic and environmental justice. She has also proposed research on harnessing renewable energy for community development and environment conservation and monitoring in remote areas. She is passionate about youth led initiatives for societal transformation. 

Nithya J Rao is a rehabilitation psychologist and entrepreneur. She has spent nearly 10,000 hours working with the youth, adults and entrepreneurs in therapy. She primarily works with resilience, grief, loss and trauma. Her work is influenced by Indian philosophy, business coaching, mindfulness and religious study.  As co-founder of Heart It Out, a mental health and wellbeing initiative that has impacted over 20,000 lives, she wishes to bridge the gap between theory and practice of psychology. Previously she worked with RoundGlass to create a Venture Fund Fellowship. As part of that, She co-led 11 social entrepreneurs into Bhutan to learn and adapt the Gross National Happiness index to India. She is one of the founding creators of Lahe Lahe, a performing arts and expression space in Bangalore. Lahe Lahe has since brought together over 2,000 artists and creators to almost a million people through its various engagements. Deeply passionate about the arts and culture, she is always on the lookout for opportunities to build authentic, inclusive communities. As a founding member of Katharsis Productions, a theatre production house aimed at bringing real life stories and lived experiences to the stage, she brings diversity, a dramatic flair and a compassion-centered approach into social entrepreneurship from her roles as an actor, designer and director. Recognised by India Today as one of India's Top 25 entrepreneurs to look out for, she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Theatre, Literature & Psychology from Christ University and a Master’s degree in Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Counseling from the Richmond Fellowship Society. By 2040, she would like to retire on a beach with a couple of cats. Until then, She wishes to make a dent on the planet, without haste and without pause.


Zaynab Abdi is a Black, Muslim, Asian (Middle Eastern), Immigrant woman who is passionate about social justice and advocacy. Zaynab is a MINN fellow for 2020 and works as a Civic Engagement Coordinator with Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment and as an Immigrant and Refugee Youth Ambassador at Green Card Voices. She graduated as magna cum laude from St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN with three Bachelors’s degrees in Political Science, International Studies, and Philosophy. Zaynab was appointed by Governor Tim Walz's office to serve in the Young Women's Cabinet where she advocated for young women in Minnesota and took leadership roles within the organization during the pandemic. She is also an Advocate for girls’ education where she spoke at many places including the United Nations to speak about the importance of educating girls in countries where girls are disadvantaged. Zaynab is a co-author in "Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from a Minneapolis High School" and was featured in Malala’s new book, "We Are Displaced." With a passion for empowering girls and youth globally to complete their education and take a leadership role in their own countries, Zaynab will attend graduate school to obtain a degree in MPA in  Development Practice at Columbia University in New York City.