Waris Dirie


In continued celebration of International Women’s Day this blog will profile eight amazing women.  Their remarkable stories will be showcased throughout the month of March.


all victims, where it is their wish, to have free access to surgery to counteract the damage and to receive psychological counselling; everyone to put into action my dream of an end to genital mutilation.

—excerpts from Waris Dirie Foundation Manifesto

Waris Dirie is next on my list of inspirational women.  Courageous and resilient, she is a human rights activist, supermodel and best-selling author.  In 1996 Waris was appointed UN Special Ambassador for the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and in 2002 she founded the Waris Dirie Foundation.  Campaigning against FGM for over 12 years, Waris received many commendations for her work. Mikhail Gorbachev and Nicolas Sarkozy both presented her with prestigious awards.  The World Demographic Association also nominated her as the first woman for the Prix de la Generation, and the Martin Buber Foundation nominated her as the first woman for the Martin Buber Gold Medal.

Born in 1965, Waris lived a nomadic life in the Somalian desert where, at the age of five, she was forced to undergo the torture of female circumcision—a hideous practice believed to increase a girl’s marriageability and worth.  (According to the UN, more than 8000 girls are victims of FGM every day.  Often they are between the ages of four and eight, although the practice is increasingly carried out on even younger children.)  At thirteen, upon learning that her father had arranged for her to marry an older man, Waris fled from home.  She made her way to London and found work in a number of low paid jobs before turning to modelling.  At the height of her career Waris began to speak out about FGM and in 1998 her autobiography, Desert Flower, was released. Her journey, rise to fame and ongoing missions are extraordinary.

A dauntless woman, her story is one of strength and admirable determination.  For more information on Waris Dirie, her work, and the campaign against FGM, please click here.


Our poetry anthology is now open to submissions.  We are looking for captivating and insightful poetry that reflects all things maiden, mother and crone.  Journey to Crone aims to celebrate women, female wisdom, and all stages of womanhood.  Submissions will be taken throughout the year until either the anthology is full, or late autumn.  The book will launch on 8th March 2013.

Check out our submission and guideline pages for full details.

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