PARIS (Reuters) - Millions of women around the world are feted on International Women’s Day but for Waris Dirie, the Somali nomad turned supermodel, the idea is absurd.
“Every day, women move mountains. It is an insult to have an international women’s day,” Dirie told Reuters before the premiere of a film based on her life story, coming out in France on Wednesday.
The film, Desert Flower, tells the story of how Dirie used her fame as a model to get the world to care about and fight against female circumcision.
Dirie underwent genital mutilation at the age of three together with her two sisters, who did not survive.
Dirie, a special ambassador to the United Nation for the elimination of female genital mutilation, said governments in Africa cared little about the issue.
“Governments do not care about that type of thing,” she said. “They do absolutely nothing to help.”
That is why, she said, help needed to come from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
On its website, the Waris Dirie Foundation, estimates that at least 150 million women and girls are affected by the cruel practice which continues to be performed in Africa and elsewhere around the world.
Thousands of mothers continue to give up their little girls for mutilation even if they live in Europe or America as it represents a way for them to cling to their traditional beliefs.
The film says 6,000 women every day lose their genitals and are sown up. The practice is based on a belief that woman who are not circumcised are impure.
Women remain sown up until their marriage. They suffer lasting infections and psychological disorders.
The film is based on Dirie’s books.
Dirie was born in the Somali desert and fled her family after she was given in marriage to an old man.
She became a supermodel after a photographer noticed her while she was cleaning in a fast-food restaurant in London.
The Foundation in Support of the Dignity and Rights of Women, part of the French retail and luxury group PPR, supported the screening of the film and organized fund-raising to support NGOs that fight female genital mutilation.
Members of the Foundation include actress Salma Hayek, wife of PPR Chief Executive Francois-Henri Pinault, and designers Stella McCartney and Frida Giannini.
Funds from the film screening went to French NGO Equilibres et Populations which works against female circumcision in Mali.
Editing by Janet Lawrence