Maria Toorpakai Wazir

Professional Squash Player

Headshot photo of Maria Toorpakai Wazir

Maria Toorpakai is Pakistan’s top female professional squash player. Having grown up in a highly conservative tribal area but with an equally progressive family, she spent the early years of her life dressed as a boy so that she would be able to participate in sports. But once her secret was revealed and she began to compete in tournaments as a girl, the Taliban threatened the lives of her entire family. In her powerful memoir, A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight, Toorpakai describes the years of abuse and oppression that she and other women suffered under that regime before her eventual escape to Canada. With her extraordinary determination and courage, she continues to climb the ranks of the world’s female squash players while also working toward gender equity through the Maria Toorpakai Foundation, which invests in education, sports, and healthcare programs for youth in remote regions of the world.