Renowned international motivational speaker, TV anchor and artist Muniba Mazari from Pakistan spoke in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney during her first Australian tour in July.
Speaking with finesse and infectious warmth, on a cold Melbourne night on Friday 13 July, Muniba Mazari captivated her audience at Melbourne University.
Opening the night with a Baloch folk dance, which Muniba is native too, the evening was organised by the inspiring Shaheens sporting organisation and was held at the University of Melbourne.
Holding the audience captive, Muniba Mazari spoke with prowess and professionalism as she shared her story of trials, self-realisation and success.
At the age of 21, at the very prime of her life, Muniba experienced a tragic car accident that paralysed her lower limbs. Doctors told her that she would be unable to walk, paint, or give birth; this left her devastated as she questioned her existence in the world.
“…that day I decided that I’m going to live life for myself. I am not going to be that perfect person for someone. I am just going to take this moment and I will make it perfect for myself, that I’m going to fight my fears,” said Muniba.
In her frustration, Muniba emerged as a fighter, using her disability as her strength.
She said “(I decided that) the only thing that I can do was to accept myself the way I was, (and) the sooner the better, that’s what I did,” said Muniba.
Today, she has earned herself, the laurel of Pakistan’s first female goodwill ambassador for the United Nations and has been named one of BBC’s “100 Most Inspirational Women in 2015” and also featured in Forbes’ “30 under 30” the following year.
“You know, when you end up being on the wheelchair, what’s the most painful thing. People think that they will not be accepted because in the world perfect people are imperfects. So I decided to appear more in public,” said Muniba.
Her presence in Pakistan continues to grow as she works as an anchor at Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV). She has also worked on campaigns for Toni&Guy and refused to portray herself as a victim of her circumstances.
Muniba said, “the wheelchair cannot be an excuse for not doing anything…be grateful for what you have, and trust me, you will end up having more.” A firm believer in “turning adversity into opportunity,” Muniba has made it her mission to inspire others to do the same.
One projects she has personally championed for in Pakistan is challenging social stigmas of transgender people.
Although, not having any personal background with transgender people, Muniba felt a kinship from her struggle with her disability and the Pakistani transgender community.
Sadly, most of the time, transgender people are viewed as beggars or entertainers and nothing more.
Addressing this inequality, Muniba established a food drive with a difference that would actually break social barriers by establishing transgender people at the helm of the project. This simple but grand gesture has helped to inspire confidence in transgender people to be valued within Pakistani society.
Her final advice to her young audience was to “be happy, be grateful, be alive and don’t let anyone ‘dis’ your abilities.”