About Maria's Father
Shamsul Qayyum Wazir was one of the Tribal elders and a descendent from a large and prominent political family in South Waziristan. Although he comes from the ultra-conservative tribal Pashtun society, he has always been a strong advocate for equal rights and opportunities for both men and women. He refused to make a distinction between sons and daughters and because of his belief in the equal treatment of men and women he was considered an outcast.
As a young man he would argue with elders of his tribe. He felt impassioned that empowering the women of his community was not just right and Islamic, but also essential to the development and growth of society. His family denounced him, saying Shams was mentally ill and committed him to a “mental prison”.
He married and had a plan for not only his sons but his daughters as well. He educated them privately from a young age and instilled in them the belief that they could do anything. Now he has two daughters that have defied all odds. Maria is a top ranked squash player and Ayesha is the only female parliamentarian from a tribal region – she is also the youngest Member of Parliament.
Shams believes his daughters will set an example for women in all Muslim countries. He is believes that Maria and Ayesha can be role models for Pashtun girls and women.
Sham says, “If given the right opportunities, there could be a thousand Maria’s.”
The Maria Toorpakai Foundation's application for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status is pending before the IRS. The Foundation is currently accepting contributions at this time, which will be tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable under the law.
Checks can be sent to:
The Maria Toorpakai Foundation, Inc.
1632 First Avenue
New York, NY 10028