Maria Toorpakai Wazir is a multiple award-winning professional squash champion, an author, an activist, and a trailblazer for global peace and human rights. Originally from the Taliban-controlled Waziristan tribal areas of the Pak-Afghanistan border, girls’ involvement in the sport was strictly forbidden by local Islamic culture. To combat this challenge, and with her family’s blessing, Toorpakai trained and competed as a boy under the name of Genghis Khan. She became ranked as Pakistan’s top female player, 3rd in the world juniors, and 41st in the world seniors.
Maria's remarkable story of resilience and courage is recounted in her autobiography, A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight. Her life story inspired the documentary, “The War to Be Her” (Girl Unbound), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and has been shown on PSB, and at the United Nations, and at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, among many more. To further her philanthropic work, Toorpakai founded the Maria Toorpakai Foundation which supports gender equality efforts combining sports, health, and education. She currently resides and trains in Toronto, Canada under formal professional squash player, Jonathon Power.
The Girl Who Hid From The Taliban in Plain Sight: The Maria Toorpakai Story Human Rights in the Face of Extremism Girls’ Education Sports and Overcoming Adversity