CMS partner’s fight to end FGM recognised in New Year Honours List
Dr Ann-Marie Wilson awarded MBE
Ground-breaking work to end the global practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been highlighted in King Charles’s first New Year Honours List as campaigner, humanitarian aid-worker and Church Mission Society mission partner, Dr Ann-Marie Wilson, received an MBE.
The citation reads that Ann-Marie is being recognised “for services to the prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls”.
In 2010 Ann-Marie founded the charity 28 Too Many and set out to end FGM in the 28 African countries where the practice of FGM is prevalent. By building on more than 3,000 FGM survivors’ stories, while collating and interpreting research data for use with international bodies, and mobilising grassroots organisations with advocacy tools, Dr Wilson has helped secure widespread change. She is a global expert FGM advisor to the United Nations, the World Bank and the Metropolitan Police, among others.
Ann-Marie first became aware of the prevalence of the practice when working in Sudan in 2003 with aid agency Medair. In 2020, following 28 Too Many’s legal report Sudan: The Law and FGM, FGM was outlawed in Sudan and is now punishable with a three-year prison term for perpetrators. In a country where an estimated 87 per cent of girls and women between 15 and 49 years have undergone FGM, Ann-Marie’s campaigning has impacted the lives of millions of women and young girls.
Debbie James, Church Mission Society’s Deputy CEO, said: “What wonderful news for Ann-Marie! She has shown remarkable dedication to the cause of anti-FGM campaigning. Her faithful service has highlighted a huge injustice and impacted the lives of thousands of women and girls.”
The Bishop of Truro, Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, a former executive leader of Church Mission Society where Ann-Marie is a mission partner, commented: “Ann-Marie is truly inspirational. In the face of significant challenges she has been an indefatigable campaigner, faithfully pursuing God’s call to champion the rights and dignity of some of the world’s most vulnerable women. I’m in awe of all she’s done and this honour is a fitting and hugely well-deserved recognition.”
Her efforts combatting FGM have won wide acclaim, including a British Citizen Award 2015 and Good Housekeeping Magazine’s Heroine of 2016. Her Ogilvy and Mather FGM publicity campaign won the prestigious Global Advertiser of the Year, beating multi-million dollar brands like Nike and Amazon. Ann-Marie had previously trained in community midwifery in northern Pakistan, fistula rehabilitation in northern Nigeria and worked as a psychologist at a UN camp for displaced Somalis on the northern Kenyan border.
By 2022, 28 Too Many’s 10th anniversary, the charity had achieved Ann-Marie’s founding aim of seeing a 10 per cent reduction in the practice of FGM across 10 countries in 10 years. 28 Too Many has now published over 120 research reports on the law against FGM, raising a call for action from many European governments.
In 2015 Ann-Marie was diagnosed with incurable non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). The story of her charity’s work is published in her book, Overcoming – My Fight Against FGM, published by SPCK in 2021.