Nimco Ali

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Nimko Ali

2019 Freedom of Expression Awards (40575329543).jpg
Nimco Ali speaking at the 2019 Freedom of Expression Awards
Born1982/1983 (age 38–39)
Alma materUniversity of West of England
OccupationSocial activist, author.
TitleCo-founder and CEO of The Five Foundation

Nimko Ali OBE (Somali: Nimco Cali), alternatively spelled Nimco (born c. 1983), is a British social activist of Somali heritage. She is the co-founder and CEO of The Five Foundation, the global partnership to end female genital mutilation (FGM). In 2020, she was appointed as the United Kingdom's Independent Government Adviser for Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls.

Ali underwent female genital mutilation in Djibouti while on vacation with her family. She later co-founded Daughters of Eve with psychotherapist Leyla Hussein to campaign against FGM. Her book What We're Told Not to Talk About (But We’re Going to Anyway): Women's Voices from East London to Ethiopia was published by Penguin Books in June 2019, and The book contained 42 stories from 152 interviews that Ali had undertaken with women across 14 countries, and her own story of living with FGM. The same year, Ali co-founded The Five Foundation, "The Global Partnership to End FGM", with Brendan Wynne. In 2020, she co-founded the Ginsburg Women's Health Board with Mika Simmons. The Board campaigns for a more effective and equitable healthcare system for women.

At the 2017 general election, Ali unsuccessfully contested the seat of Hornsey and Wood Green in North London for the Women's Equality Party. During the 2019 general election, she endorsed the Conservative Party.

Early life[edit]

Ali was born c. 1983 in Somalia. When she was four, her family moved to Manchester, England, where she was raised.[1][2] She has four brothers, one of whom, Mohamed, is chair of the Somali Conservatives.[3] Ali underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) in Djibouti while on vacation with her family.[1][4] She later suffered health complications and had to undergo reconstructive surgery.[5] The experience, and meeting other females who had been incised later inspired her to assist at risk girls and to call for the practice's eradication.[1][2] For her post-secondary education, Ali attended the University of the West of England, Bristol.[6]

Career[edit]

In 2010, Ali along with psychotherapist Leyla Hussein founded Daughters of Eve.[1][7] The non-profit organization was established to help young women and girls, with a focus on providing education and raising awareness on female genital mutilation.[8]

Ali co-founded The Five Foundation, "The Global Partnership to End FGM", with Brendan Wynne in 2019. This non-profit organisation works to raise the issue of FGM on the international agenda and leverage funding for grassroots organizations working to end FGM. Ali previously worked as a civil servant. She also served as a women's rights activist and an independent training consultant for a number of years.[6][9] Additionally, Ali served as a Network Coordinator for The Girl Generation. She has also written extensively on national gender rights.[6]

Her book What We’re Told Not to Talk About (But We're Going to Anyway): Women's Voices from East London to Ethiopia was published by Penguin Books in June 2019. It includes stories of women who are sharing experiences they have always been told should be "secret and shameful" as well as Ali's own story of living with FGM.[10] The book contained 42 stories from 152 interviews that Ali had undertaken with women across 14 countries.[11] In The Times, Hannah Betts described the book as "a compelling cross-cultural account of vaginal life".[12] Isobel Shirlaw said in i that it was an important book and that "The chorus of women's voices which provide a multi-dimensional, global view of these hidden issues is powerful."[13] The Guardian review by Arifa Akbar praised the book as "rich collection of intimate and uncensored stories" and wrote that Ali "delivers the physicality of the women's experiences with all the leaking, faecal, bloody mess of the body laid bare", although noting that "deeper reflection is lacking" and criticising the omission of coverage of anyone that was not heterosexual and cisgender.[14] Ali told an interviewer from The Guardian that:

"Since the age of seven, when I started talking about my vagina after FGM, I was told that I should be ashamed. But I wouldn't have been talking about these things if FGM hadn't happened to me. FGM was the patriarchy's way of trying to break me and keep me silent, but it made me the loudest person in the room."[11]

In 2020, Ali and Mika Simmons co-founded the Ginsburg Women's Health Board, to campaign for a more effective and equitable healthcare system for women from the National Health Service. The organisation is named after Ruth Bader Ginsburg.[15][16]

Home Secretary of the United Kingdom Priti Patel appointed Ali as an Independent Government Adviser for Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls, in October 2020.[17] Ali was a direct appointment to the role, which was not advertised. The role involves the formulation of a strategy to reduce violence against women and girls, with recommendations expected to be produced in 2021.[18] The report, with forewords from Priti Patel and from Ali, was published in July 2021.[19][20] Ali expressed her hope that the strategy would be a foundation to improve safety for women and girls through education and legislation, but that "whole system" change would be required to reduce violence.[21]

Political activity[edit]

At the 2017 general election, Ali contested the seat of Hornsey and Wood Green in North London for the Women's Equality Party.[22] Ali polled 551 votes (0.9% of the total),[23] finishing in 5th place out of the 8 candidates that stood and losing her election deposit.[24] During the campaign, Ali's campaign workers received dozens of abusive and aggressive telephone calls, and Ali received a death threat.[22]

Ali is reportedly a close friend of Carrie Johnson, the wife of Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and godmother to their son, Wilfred.[25] She endorsed Johnson, who she has referred to as a "real feminist", in the 2019 Conservative leadership election.[26] During the 2019 general election, Ali endorsed the Conservatives.[27]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 2014, Ali and Hussein received a community/charity award at the 2014 Red Magazine Woman of the Year awards for their work with Daughters of Eve.[8] They also placed sixth in the Woman's Hour Power List 2014.[7] She was named one of BBC's 100 Women during 2018.[28]

On International Women's Day 2019 it was announced that the 2019 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy’s International Women's Rights Award would be awarded to Ali for her "approach to ending FGM by offering holistic support to survivors of the practice".[29] Ali was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to tackling female genital mutilation and gender inequality.[30][31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Onyanga-Omara, Jane (29 July 2011). "Men 'must help stop female genital mutilation'". BBC. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b Poon, Linda (5 August 2014). "Fighting Genital Cutting Of British Girls: A Survivor Speaks Out". NPR. Archived from the original on 1 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  3. ^ Collier, Hatty (16 May 2017). "Bizarre row erupts in north London election race as Women's Equality candidate labelled 'anti-feminist'". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 20 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  4. ^ Bentham, Martin (18 February 2013). "Met will prosecute parents who send their girls abroad to be 'cut'". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  5. ^ Banneman, Lucy (13 January 2014). "'It's child abuse that has gone mainstream'". The Times. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "6. Leyla Hussein and Nimco Ali". Woman's Hour. BBC. 2013. Archived from the original on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  7. ^ a b British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (May 2014). "Towards ending female genital mutilation" (PDF). CBT Today. 42 (2): 16–17. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  8. ^ a b Powell, Emma (4 September 2014). "Lauren Laverne, Sadie Frost and Olivia Inge attend the Red Woman of the Year Awards". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  9. ^ Kelly-Linden, Jordan (8 February 2020). "Global health: Why the key to ending FGM lies in the hands of women". The Telegraph Online. Archived from the original on 16 April 2021. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  10. ^ Nimko Ali Archived 9 July 2019 at the Wayback Machine www.penguin.co.uk. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  11. ^ a b Sturges, Fiona (21 June 2019). "Nimko Ali: 'Orgasms and sexual pleasure are a human right. I guard these things with my life'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  12. ^ Betts, Hanah (8 August 2019). "The new period drama? I don't feel part of it: From hormone-tracking apps to subscription boxes, menstruation merchandise is everywhere. Who is really profiting?". The Times. p. 2.
  13. ^ Shirlaw, Isobel (12 July 2019). "What We're Told Not to Talk About (But We're Going to Anyway), by Nimko Ali: a devastating chorus of women". inews.co.uk. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  14. ^ Akbar, Arifa (10 July 2019). "What We're Told Not to Talk About by Nimko Ali review – the body laid bare". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  15. ^ Harvey-Jenner, Catriona (20 May 2021). "A new health board aims to eradicate the gender health gap". Cosmoplitan. Archived from the original on 23 May 2021. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  16. ^ "About us". Ginsburg Women's Health Board. Archived from the original on 26 August 2021. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  17. ^ "FGM campaigner Nimco Ali appointed as Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls adviser". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 10 October 2020. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  18. ^ Blackall, Mollie (5 December 2020). "Carrie Symonds' friend Nimco Ali given Home Office role without it being advertised". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 24 July 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  19. ^ "Tackling violence against women and girls strategy launched". gov.uk. 21 July 2021. Archived from the original on 10 August 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Tackling violence against women and girls strategy". gov.uk. 26 July 2021. Archived from the original on 10 August 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  21. ^ Topping, Alexandra (20 July 2021). "Public street harassment could be made illegal in England and Wales". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 August 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  22. ^ a b Topping, Alexandra (7 June 2017). "Women's Equality party candidate receives death threat signed 'Jo Cox'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 29 May 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  23. ^ Saul, Heather (9 June 2017). "Women's Equality Party defeat follows weeks of horrific abuse". i. Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  24. ^ "General Election 2017 - Haringey votes". voting.haringey.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  25. ^ Sampson, Annabel. "Feminist campaigner Nimco Ali is reportedly a godparent to Boris Johnson's five-month-old son, Wilfred". Tatler. Archived from the original on 11 October 2020. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  26. ^ Ali, Nimco (7 June 2019). "Why am I backing Boris? Because he's a real feminist". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 June 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  27. ^ @NimkoAli (22 November 2019). "I believe in this man. I know this man and I know how much he cares. And with a majority he will deliver Brexit and his government deliver the investment our NHS and schools need. #BackBoris" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 10 August 2021. Retrieved 12 December 2019 – via Twitter.
  28. ^ "BBC 100 Women 2018: Who is on the list?". BBC News. 19 November 2018. Archived from the original on 29 October 2019. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  29. ^ "25 NGOs Announce 2019 Anti-FGM Champion As International Women's Rights Award Winner". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. 8 March 2019. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  30. ^ "No. 62666". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 June 2019. p. B10.
  31. ^ Lizo Mzimba (reporter) and Nimco Ali (OBE recipient) (8 June 2019). News item: Queen's Birthday Honours (Television). BBC News 1.05 pm. BBC One. Retrieved 8 June 2019.

External links[edit]