Surviving and Ending FGM with Nimko Ali

This week, Hannah chats to Nimko Ali, who is the co-founder of The Five Foundation (the Africa-led Partnership To End FGM), and author of the book ‘What we’re told not to talk about (but we’re going to anyway)’. Nimko shares her own experience of FGM, and her work to end FGM worldwide by 2030. They talk about how Nimko’s new book came about, getting the balance between being honest and being safe, and look at how we define FGM. Finally, Hannah and Nimko explore why we need to invest our financial aid in women on the front line of these services.


What we chat about…

  • How did the book come about? Nimko talks about why she didn’t want this book to focus purely on her own experience, and how she sourced stories from vulnerable people, including refugees and homeless women.

  • Writing the book safely, which meant writing it conversationally, and working so the book wouldn’t cause secondary trauma while still being informative. Nimko also shared about why she continues to speak out, despite danger and death threats.

  • How FGM impacts sexual pleasure, with a chapter in Nimko’s book focusing on orgasms.

  • Being policed by others as a Muslim woman.

  • FGM Terms: the different types are explained, and Nimko shares her own experience of FGM.

  • Using Twitter as a platform for constructive conversation (!!)

  • The Five Foundation, which is an organisation Nimko co-founded that is working to end FGM by 2030. Nimjo chats about the different ways they are planning on meeting this goal, which relates to forecasting poverty, child marriage and FGM.

  • Why we need to reframe the debate on the world stage: Economics over emotion.

  • The Wonders of the Vagina!

  • How there are a higher proportion of female entrepreneurs in Africa than male ones, and why we need to invest in these women on the frontline in order to, not just have success in ending FGM, but also in having a healthy economy.

  • Medicalising FGM IS a problem, as it normalises it and just makes it harder to unpick.

  • The NHS, Privacy & whether AI doctors could be the future of ending FGM.

  • Nimko’s experience of standing for Election in 2017: Death Threats, Privilege, Race and Dirty Politics.

  • What we consider as genital mutilation - is circumcision unethical? And is labiaplasty technically FGM?

  • How religion is still effecting our medical practices, including circumcision.

Useful Links


Nimco is co-founder of The Five Foundation, the Africa-led Partnership To End FGM. It raises FGM on the international agenda and re-grants to Frontline EndFGM group. Nimko is leading a campaign to end female genital mutilation (FGM) worldwide by 2030.

Find out more about Nimko on her Twitter and Instagram, and you can buy her book here.




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Hannah Witton