Muniba Mazari Baloch (Urdu: منیبہ مزاری; born 3 March 1987, also known as the Iron Lady of Pakistan) is a Pakistani activist, anchor artist, model, singer and motivational speaker. She became the National Ambassador for UN Women Pakistan after being shortlisted in the 100 Inspirational Women of 2015 by BBC. She also made it to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for 2016.
Mazari is also Pakistan’s first model and anchor who uses a wheelchair. She uses a wheelchair due to injuries sustained in a car accident at the age of 21. She appeared as a host on Hum News’s social show Main Nahi Hum.
Muniba Mazari is of Baloch background, belonging to the tribe of Mazari. She was born in Rahim Yar Khan in southern Punjab on 3rd March, 1987. She has 2 younger brothers. Muniba went to the Army Public School, and later attend the college in her hometown.At the age of 18, before she could complete her studies, she was married to Khurram Shahzad, a former Pakistan Air Force pilot. In 2008, the couple was involved in an accident, which left Muniba paraplegic. The marriage did not last. The couple got separated in August 2014, and eventually divorced in 2015. In 2017, her husband sued her for PKR 10 million on accounts of defamation, and the case was dismissed in January 2018.
Accident and recovery
On 27 February 2008, Muniba and her husband were traveling from Quetta to Rahim Yar Khan. Their car met with an accident, in which she sustained several major injuries, including broken bones in her arm (both radius and ulna), rib-cage, shoulder blade, collarbone and spine. Her lungs and liver were also deeply cut. Moreover, her entire lower body was left paralysed. She was taken to a nearby hospital, which was ill-equipped to deal with such a severe case. She was then moved to a hospital in Rahim Yar Khan, and eventually, she was admitted to the Agha Khan Hospital, Karachi. Post-surgery, she was left bed-ridden for two years. Physiotherapy started, which helped her recover enough to use a wheelchair.
After treatment for her injuries, Muniba moved to Rawalpindi. Her mother moved in with her to take care of her, which eventually resulted in her parents’ divorce. In 2011, four years after the accident, Muniba adopted her son, Nael.
Muniba Mazari has gained fame in multiple areas, as an artist, activist, anchor, model, singer and motivational speaker. Most of her career, however, has been built on painting and motivational speaking.
While painting, she found a job working for Areeb Azhar to run his Facebook page for monthly wages. She also started work at her son’s school for a startup project called Dheeray Bolo (Speak Slowly), which involved teaching Urdu at various schools. The managing director of Pakistan Television (PTV) at the time, Mohammad Malick, learnt about her because of her TED talk, and asked her to work at PTV. She also worked for Clown Town in September, 2014, which allowed her to work with children and the elderly.
Apart from this, Muniba was chosen by Pond’s (a beauty brand) as the Pond’s Miracle Woman. She was also chosen by international hairdressing salon, Toni & Guy, to become the first-ever wheelchair-bound model in Asia. Her first campaign for them was called Women of Substance.
Muniba Mazari has been a part of Dil Say Pakistan’s campaign to spread the feeling of patriotism and unity in Pakistan. She has performed as a singer for them, including in a YouTube video which was published in August 2017 as part of their Independence Day campaign for that year.
In June 2019, Muniba was appointed by the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, to be a part of Pakistan’s first ever National Youth Council.
Muniba started painting on her hospital bed. Her medium is acrylics on canvas. With the slogan, Let Your Walls Wear Colours, she created her own art brand called Muniba’s Canvas. She has presented her work in exhibitions, including a six-day exhibition held in Lahore from 19 April 2016 to 24 April 2016.This exhibition was held at Collectors Galleria and displayed 27 acrylic paintings.
Her first International exhibition was held in Dubai – entitled And I Choose To Live – at the Pakistan Association Dubai. The two-day exhibition – hosted by the Embassy of Pakistan, Poetic Strokes and The Collectors Galleria, Lahore – was inaugurated by Moazzam Ahmad Khan, the Pakistani ambassador to the UAE.
She has displayed her art in several other exhibitions, as well as for charity, including:
- USEA Art Club, Islamabad (Solo exhibition)
- Nomad Art Gallery (Group exhibition)
- Tribal Heritage Art and Craft Gallery, Islamabad (Group exhibition)
- My Art World Gallery, Islamabad (Group exhibition)
- Worked on a project for the Embassy of United States of America Overseas Buildings Operations, Islamabad
- Australian High Commissioners’ Charity Art Exhibition for a Christian school in Rawalpindi
- Exhibition at Serena Hotel, Islamabad, collaborated with National University of Modern Languages
- Collaborated with three artists for an exhibition at Arts Council, Rawalpindi, in 2011
- Took part in a Charity Event for United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR). She also donated a painting to UNHCR and Ministry of Women Development during an exhibition for refugees organized by Islamabad-based SACH (Struggle for Change) NGO
She has participated as a motivational speaker on various fronts, with her first break being TED Talks, Islamabad.Some of her notable works as a speaker include:
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization Network, Pakistan
- Motivational speech at Army Public School, Peshawar and Combined Military Hospital, Peshawar. She also sang Ye Watan Tumhara Hai by Mehdi Hassan
- Leader’s Summit
- Motivational speech at Bank Alfalah Training Centre, Lahore
- Invited as a guest to Women Entrepreneurship Day at the National University of Science and Technology Business School
- Talked about social entrepreneurship at the Youth Alumni Reunion 2014
- Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO)
- VCon Malaysia
- Vcon Dubai
AWARDS AND HONOURS
- 100 Inspirational Women of 2015 (BBC)
- 500 most influential muslims of the world
- First Pakistani UN GoodWill Ambassador for UN Women
- Forbes 30 Under 30 – 2016
- Pakistan’s wheelchair-bound model and anchor
- The Karic Brothers Awards 2017 in Serbia by The Karic Foundation