The TRUE Africa 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today and tomorrow. We’re featuring them over 100 days and we’ve asked each of them three questions.
Somalian model and anti-FGM activist, Waris Dirie is the founder of the Desert Flower Foundation. According to the foundation’s website, every 11 seconds a girl is subjected to female genital mutilation. Waris Dirie has saved more than 1,000 girls from the practice but aims to do much more.
You have pioneered women’s rights through your Desert Flower Foundation for more than a decade. Do you think you have made progress in shifting norms?
Absolutely! When I first started to campaign against FGM nobody knew about these crimes against innocent little girls. Now, even the president of the United States, Barack Obama, addressed the problem during his visit to Africa recently. The UN General Assembly finally adopted a resolution against FGM in 2012, 15 years after I started my mission.
‘If you ask me about the future of Africa, I can tell you that women will be the future of Africa.’
But 30 million girls in Africa are still threatened by FGM. Therefore my Desert Flower Foundation has launched the campaign ‘Save one Million Desert Flowers from FGM’.
What does your faith mean to you? How do you see Islam in the future of Africa?
I believe when you do good things in life, good things will come back to you. When you do bad things, bad things will make your life miserable; no matter how rich you are and no matter which religion you believe in.
I don’t comment on any particular religion. But if you ask me about the future of Africa, I can tell you that women will be the future of Africa.
Who is your African of the year?
Safa, the little girl who played me in my feature film Desert Flower. She is young, strong and committed. With the support of Desert Flower Foundation she is receiving a good education and will be able to live a self-determined life. She is the new desert flower and she is a symbol of hope for the future for young African girls.
Follow Waris on Twitter @Waris_Dirie
Find out more about the Desert Flower Foundation
Come back tomorrow for the next TRUE Africa 100 and keep up to date using the hashtag #TRUEAfrica