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Women’s History Month: Waris Dirie

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Valdosta chapter.

To honor National Women’s History Month, I wanted to highlight a woman who was corageous and resilient in her efforts for children’s rights. Waris Dirie was born in 1965 in Somalia, and grew up to be an amazing model, actress, activist, and noelvist.

“Female genital mutilation targets little, baby girls fragile angels who are helpless, who cannot fight back. It’s a crime against a child, a crime against humanity. Its abuse. It’s absolutely criminal and we have to stop it.”


For some history about Waris Dirie, she was three years old when she was circumcised as a part of her culture’s tradition. She was thirteen when she fled Somalia to avoid an arranged marriage to a 60 year old man.  As a strikingly gorgeous woman, she also found an opportunity to model after moving to London. After being discovered, she went on to model for Revlon and Chanel, and she featured in popular magazines Vogue, Elle, and Glamour.

All of these experiences influenced her campaigns that changed the lives of many women. In 2000, she changed her focus from modeling to an activist role for ending Female Genital Mutilation. She decided to speak publicly about her experience, and was appointed as a Special UN Ambassador.

Waris Dire was one of the first women to make a stance and speak out about the Somalian practice of FGM, which she found cruel and unnecessary. An estimated 98 percent of women are expected to go through the procedure from birth to puberty. Some common health effects of the procedure are vaginal infections, infertility, and complications during childbirth.

She opened the Desert Flower Foundation and continues to fight for the end of FGM, and children’s protection. A film called Desert Flower was released in 2010 as an autobiography of her life, and received a lot of attention. While some people may take their body for granted, there are children who have to endure a forced and excruciating mutilation. Waris Dirie is a very important and influential Black woman that everyone should know about, and talk about! 

Her Campus at Valdosta State.