Muniba Mazari is a beacon of inspiration. She epitomises unwavering courage, blazing a trail as a mother, an esteemed artist, a champion of women's rights, and a tireless advocate for those deemed differently abled. As Pakistan's first female TV host in a wheelchair, her journey is a testament to the boundless potential of the human spirit.
Her tale of resilience begins in the aftermath of a catastrophic 2008 car crash that shattered her body, leaving her paralysed from the waist down. In that dark hour, as doctors uttered the painful truth of her inability to walk again, Muniba confronted not just despair, but her own existential crisis.
Tapping into a turning point
Hospitalised for many weeks, and later, bedridden for two years as part of the healing process, Muniba began painting as a therapeutic escape, and says it was what kept her alive. “As I lay there looking at the window and listening to the birds, I realised how lucky people are, and also, how unaware they are about it. Painting was my turning point.”
She promised herself that whenever she was able to sit up, she would share the story of her pain to make people realise how blessed they truly are, and how best to use those blessings.
The road to recovery was long and marred by setbacks, and while she bore her losses stoically, Muniba found the grit and a new determination to change her life. “The doctors put a lot of titanium in my broken arms, and to fix my damaged back. It is why people in Pakistan began calling me Iron Lady,” she says.
Being the best version of herself
Muniba’s life-changing experience turned her into a champion of social causes and under-represented people. Her steely resolve has helped girls and women who have undergone physical and mental pain overcome their ordeals – just like she did.
In November 2014, when Muniba spoke passionately at a TEDx event in Islamabad, it propelled her into the public eye. “There may be incidents in your life that can break you physically,” she said. “It may deform your body but it will transform your soul, and mould you into the best version of you. This is what happened to me.” She was subsequently named one of BBC’s 100 Women for 2015, and included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list for 2016.
There may be incidents in your life that can break you physically. It may deform your body but it will transform your soul, and mould you into the best version of you.
When she was 28, UN Women appointed Muniba Mazari as Pakistan’s first National Ambassador for her leading role in the national campaign, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
Bringing change to community
As an artist and activist, as a popular public speaker, and as Pakistan’s first differently abled television anchor and model, Muniba’s appeal transcends different generations as she addresses important social issues.
She regularly campaigns for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, specifically the advocacy of women’s rights and the inclusion of women with disabilities.
“I could not find a hero in my life, so I became one,” she says.