Nimco Ali OBE is a Somali British social activist and writer. She co-founded Daughters of Eve, a non-profit organisation which works to protect girls and young women who are at risk from female genital mutilation (FGM), in 2010 and The Five Foundation, which leverages resources for front line activists, in 2019. In 2020, she was appointed as an independent government advisor on tackling violence against women and girls.
Her professional experience has included working for counter-terrorism within the civil service, supporting the rights of girls in the UK as part of Girlguiding UK and as network lead on The Girl Generation, the DfID-funded anti-FGM social change communications initiative. She is also a leading commentator in international media on the rights of girls and women – particularly surrounding FGM and related issues. Nimco’s debut book What We Are Told Not To Talk About was published in 2019.
In 2014, she was awarded Red Magazine’s Woman of the Year award, and placed at No 6 on the Woman’s Hour Power List. Most recently she was named by the Sunday Times as one of Debrett’s 500 most influential people in Britain, as well one of the Evening Standard‘s 1000 most powerful and BBC’s 100 Women 2018.
Image credit: Sandra Freij
The author and activist has outspoken views on nearly everything, but explains to Diyora Shadijanova why she's not political.
14 countries, 42 women, each with a story no one has heard before.
What do you do when you’re living on the streets and on your period? What does it feel like to have a poo after you’ve given birth? How do we learn to love our bodies again after they’ve been abused? And, how do you know if you’ve ever really orgasmed? We all have questions about our bodies but often women’s voices are silenced for being impolite or improper
What We’re Told Not To Talk About (But We’re Going To Anyway) is an important, taboo-breaking book that gives voice to the experiences of women from all walks of life, whose stories might not ordinarily be heard. Alongside Nimko’s story of living with FGM, rebuilding her relationship with her own body and being a woman her own way, these are the true stories of real women who are sharing the experiences they’ve always been told should be secret and shameful.
The book is a call to arms for all women to reclaim the narrative around their bodies and to refuse to bow to the taboos which keep us silent. There is no such thing as oversharing.
‘Hilarious and heart-breaking at the same time, Nimko has blown apart all taboos … Essential reading for everyone.’
— Scarlett Curtis, author of Feminists Don't Wear Pink
‘Nimko Ali: a heroine for our time destroys the notion of things being too rude to discuss.’
— Caitlin Moran
‘Nimko says it how it is. There is no subject too rude for her to tackle. We should all be talking about our vaginas and she is leading the way.’
— Bryony Gordon, author of Mad Girl
‘Nimko Ali is my hero! She’s an anti-FGM activist and is responsible for changing laws across the globe! She is also hilarious and wonderful.’
— Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella)
‘A beautiful book with such a wide range of uplifting but often heart-breaking stories. Made us cry and think in equal measure.’
— Pandora Sykes, co-host of The High Low
‘Nimko’s book is going to shift the conversation around women’s bodies. Our bodies, and everything they do, make us who we are.’
— Amika George, founder of Free Periods Campaign