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 and the youngest Member of Parliament.

My family has been my greatest support. My father’s love, friendship and teachings helped me navigate through a world of oppression.
— Maria Toorpakai Wazir

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 across the world.

Simone Partridge