Maria Toor: Pakistani Woman Squash champion from South Waziristan
Maria is the Pakistan Woman Squash champion and Seventy Second in the World. What is remarkable is that she comes from WANA South Waziristan, the home of Pakistani Taleban. Her parents are from a poor background and she did not even pick up a squash racket till the age of twelve. Her meteoric rise in squash is amazing as she has achieved this with little to no resources. In listening to her in the attached video you can get a sense of her passion for the game and the hurdles she had to overcome in order to get there. The other thing that struck me was her confidence in achieving pretty much what she put her mind to, including appearing in a Hollywood movie. With little to no education she has still found the time to learn English and appears comfortable in front of the camera.
Saira Amin: First female Sword of Honor Winner and Fighter Pilot from Peshawer. Saira not only graduated from one of the most rigorous air force academies in 2006, but also won the most coveted Sword of Honor. To achieve this you need to be the most outstanding cadet in all of the three areas of flying, academics and general military training. She belonged to only the second group of females to be inducted into the PAF. She had to outclass all her male colleagues in physically grueling training that included para jumping.
She has established that in a extremely male dominated domain of jet fighter pilots of one of the most demanding of air forces, a female can not only participate but even dominate.
The video below shows female fighter pilots converting into flying fighters of PAF.
Naseem Akhter: Fastest Woman in South Asia from Korangi.
Naseem Akhter caught the fancy of all of Pakistan when she beat Pramila Priyadarshan, the Sri Lankan favorite to win the gold medal in South Asian games in 2010. She hails from a poor family from Korangi area of Karachi. Her dedication to achieve her goal was captured in her statement that she gave after the event.
“I had forgotten the world for six months and trained really very, very hard under my coach Maqsood Ahmed to achieve this. It is a great moment for me to have brought glory to the country in my event.”
To grasp the real significance of her story you have to watch the video below and see and hear the pride of her family.
What really struck me in the photo below is that she was wearing loose clothes and yet was only a second and half behind the fastest woman on the planet, Florence Griffith-Joyner. I can only wonder that with some training and more streamlined clothes what she can possibly achieve.
The theme that runs common in all the three stories is that none of these ladies let any excuse come between them and their goals. They managed the challenges with a supportive family structure. They exhibit all the same qualities that are needed to be a successful entrepreneur. They had to raise money, market their talents, fight the naysayers and excel in what they did with single minded focus.
To all these women, “Afreen” .