Waris Dirie awarded Liberal International Prize for Freedom

Monday 09th February 2015 15:08 EST

Former international model Waris Dirie who has featured on advertisements for the likes of Chanel and Vogue was last week awarded the Liberal International Prize for Freedom in recognition of her campaign to bring an end to female genital mutilation across the world.

Waris overcame the trauma of being subjected to the brutal practise in her homeland Somalia when she was just five years old and at the age 0f 13 escaped to the UK from a forced marriage where she was discovered by renowned photographer Terence Donovan and turned into a global model

But despite her glittering lifestyle, Waris never forgot the traumatic experiences of her childhood. She has dediacted the last 20 years campaigning tirelessly against FGM through her charity Desert Flower

Speaking to those gathered in the House of Lords to celebrate her award of the LI Freedom Prize 2014 Waris said "What happened to me all those many years ago in Somalia still happens today It happens to children - little girls who can hardly walk or talk, not just in Somalia but all around the world including here in England. We must all work together to put a stop to this brutality

"We can't control the world, but we can control what we can do in the world. I want to make it a better place, especially for women. I've been through a lot, just to be a woman, and that's what drives me. That's my fight."

Before presenting Waris with the award, Minister of State for the UK Home Office Lynn Featherstone, who has helped secure £35m from the government to help tackle FGM, warmly praised Waris's efforts.

"Today, people in the street know what FGM means," she said. "I want to praise brave survivors like Waris who have spoken out. We will end FGM in our lifetime, and it's thanks to campaigners like Waris Dirie." 

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