Muniba Mazari: The Iron Lady of Pakistan
Bearing an iron will befitting the title given to her by the nation, Pakistan’s Iron Lady Muniba Mazari’s life-changing experience led her to become an activist, artist and a motivational speaker. Mazari was appointed as Pakistan’s first National Ambassador for UN Women in December 2015, marking the end of a 16-day campaign against gender-based violence.
Belonging to a conservative Baloch family, Mazari was married at the age of 18. In her inspiring 2014 TED-talk which propelled her into the limelight, Mazari recalled that her marriage was not a happy affair. In 2008, while Mazari and her husband were travelling to Rahim Yar Khan from Quetta, they met with an accident after her spouse fell asleep at the wheel. While her former husband managed to escape from the toppled car, Mazari lay trapped under the wrecked car and as a result sustained a lot of injuries. The radius ulna of her right arm was fractured, her entire ribcage was fractured and due to the ribcage injury, her lungs and liver were “badly injured.”
I couldn’t breathe, but the injury that changed my life completely, as a person and my perception towards life- was the spine injury. Three vertebra of my backbone were completely cruhed and I became paralyzed for the rest of my life.
Passersby saved her by laying her at the back of an empty jeep and driving her to the nearest hospital which was approximately three hours drive away from the site of the accident. At the hospital, she discovered that half of her body was fractured and the other half paralysed.
Doctors have put a lot of titanium in my back to fix my back. That’s why people call me ‘The Iron Lady of Pakistan.’
Mazari’s true aspiration was to become an artist and as she lay on the hospital bed the doctor dashed her dream by informing her that she would not be able to hold a paintbrush again due the multiple injuries she had sustained. Being the harbinger of bad news, the doctor told Mazari that she would not be able to walk nor could she have a child.
What devastated Mizari was the fact that she could not experience motherhood. She explained how the importance of motherhood is inculcated in every Pakistani girl from young age, the notion that if a woman cannot have a child then “she is incomplete.”
What helped her immensely during her darkest moments were her mother’s words, “this too shall pass. God has a greater plan for you.”