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Maria Toorpakai Wazir          

Founder & President of the Maria Toopakai Foundation; Pakistan's Top Female Squash Player; Advocate for Women's Rights & Using Sports to Inspire Change

Maria Toorpakai Wazir hails from South Waziristan, along the Pakistan Afghanistan border. This area is known as the most dangerous place on earth and the birthplace of the Taliban. Due to the centuries old ultra-conservative norms, girls/women have been suffering from the worst of human rights’ conditions. Girls here are bought & sold into marriages at young ages & have no right to decide for their lives but despite these disadvantages, Maria became Pakistan’s top female squash player and turned professional in 2006.

She started her journey of rebellion for equal rights at age 4 ⅕ by burning her girly clothes/dresses and cut her hair. She is trailblazer in her native Pakistan, she fought against gender barricades inflicted on her by the so called Islamic & cultural beliefs and posed as a boy using the name Genghis Khan to compete in sports in her younger days. Due to her audacious and outspoken nature, she got death threats from the Taliban in 2007 & so she locked herself in her house for 3 years.

She continued to train in her bedroom while sending out thousands of emails around the world to sports academies in order to train & compete with peace of mind. She escaped her country in 2011 to Canada. Her passion for Sports and her quest for equality & liberty continued. Athletic competition gave Maria her platform to learn about the world and channel her abundant energy in a positive direction, and she hopes to inspire young women to seek empowerment through athletic competition, particularly in conservative cultures through community engagement and mentorship.

Coming from violent & war affected area, she truly believes in the power of sports to combat negativity, extremism and violence. She uses sport as the medium for change.

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