Ann-Marie Wilson, Britain

Ann-Marie Wilson, Britain

Working to end FGM and violence against women and girls, especially across Africa and the diaspora

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Millions of girls across Africa and the diaspora are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), which is needless and can cause long-lasting physical and psychological damage.

I work on behalf of millions of girls to stop FGM before it happens, educating people about FGM and working to change laws to protect girls.

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More about Ann-Marie

I am a senior research advisor with Orchid Project, working closely with the board and the chief executive. Having founded anti-FGM charity 28 Too Many and served as its chief executive for 12 years, our two charities have now joined forces. I am using my background in FGM research to continue to work for the protection of the millions of girls at risk of FGM in Africa, the diaspora and beyond.

Part of my role involves raising awareness through speaking about FGM at events, encouraging as many people as possible to stand with us in the fight to protect innocent girls from mutilation.

FGM originates in Africa, occurring in 28 of its countries and in diaspora communities. Through research reports, we share knowledge to help change laws, making FGM illegal in the countries where it is still practised. Since 28 Too Many was founded, we have influenced policy reforms, including the criminalisation of FGM in Nigeria and Sudan. We educate girls at risk of physical and psychological harm from FGM. We partner with communities and advocate for change from within.

One significant point on this journey was when I met a girl in West Darfur who had experienced FGM at age five. At age ten, she was raped and fell pregnant by the militia who razed her village. I felt God calling me to speak out for girls like her – young, abused, abandoned and isolated.

My book, Overcoming: My Fight Against FGM, published in 2021, tells more of my journey and how I came to invest my life in speaking out against FGM and supporting FGM survivors. My story includes experience of HR, counselling, psychology, business studies, midwifery and cross-cultural studies in places as varied as Kosovo, Uganda, Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan and the UK.

I feel it is the duty of the Church to engage in pioneering justice issues such as ending FGM. I have seen great advances in ending FGM and in 2022 I was awarded an MBE for my work, but I humbly press on as there is still much work to be done before all girls are safe from FGM. I believe we can end FGM in my lifetime.

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