Maria Toorpakai Wazir

Maria Toorpakai Wazir

Maria Toorpakai Wazir is a professional Pakistani squash player and an advocate for women's rights. Toorpakai was raised in South Waziristan, one of Pakistanโ€™s tribal regions dominated by the Taliban, by feminist Muslim parents and allowed to dress as a boy by age 4. Under the guidance of her father, Toorpakai began competing as a boy in weightlifting competitions under the name Genghis Khan and soon took up squash. In 2006, Toorpakai turned professional and the truth of her gender leaked out, leading to relentless death threats from the Taliban. She locked herself in her home for three and half years until she was accepted to train in Toronto in 2011, and by the next year was ranked as Pakistanโ€™s top female squash player. Toorpakai is the founder of the Maria Toorpakai Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to building peaceful communities and gender equity by investing in education, sports, and health care programs for young girls and boys in remote regions of the world. In May 2016, she published her memoir, A Different Kind Of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight.

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