Asenath joins Orchid Project from Equality Now where she was the Global Lead – End Harmful Practices (FGM/C & Child Marriage). In this role, she provided thought leadership and strategic direction to the end harmful practices programme and led the team in designing and developing effective and sustainable approaches on ending FGM/C and child marriage.
Prior to joining Equality Now, Asenath worked as the Programme Analyst for United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Kenya Country Office implementing the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the abandonment of FGM and was seconded to the Anti Female Genital Mutilation Board, Kenya as the Technical Advisor to the CEO. In this role, she was in charge of all programming on national and community Level interventions for prevention and response to Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Traditional Practices at the UNFPA Kenya Country Office and provided technical and strategic guidance to the Government of Kenya’s Anti FGM Board, other state and non-state actors.
Asenath’s wealth of experience in ending FGM/C spans over a decade having developed and implemented national and regional programmes including the FCDO Phase I programme, the Girl Generation as the Social Change Communications Manager in ten African Countries and being the founding member of the Youth Anti-FGM Network-Kenya, a movement of young people working towards abandonment of FGM.
Dr Ann-Marie is a psychologist with over 30 years’ experience. She founded and led
the anti-FGM charity, 28 Too Many (www.28toomany.org) for the last 12 years, which focussed on anti-FGM research, producing over 100 reports in that time. Apart from managing a database of some 60+ countries, the research generated creation and
management of a global network of contacts and partners; capacity development
and resource production, enabling advocacy, supported by strategic communications.
Dr Ann-Marie successfully steered a merger with Orchid Project earlier this year, in liaison with the boards of both charities. As a global Expert, Ann-Marie continues to work closely with UK and overseas governments, NGOs and UN bodies and has delivered numerous papers, posters and talks on FGM-related issues. 28 Too Many has published anti-FGM research reports on 28 countries across Africa, 30 on the Law
and FGM, and 33 on FGM in the Diaspora. The Charity remains an Associate Member of the UN Inter African Committee.
Prior to founding 28 Too Many, Dr Ann-Marie worked in humanitarian aid for over 20 years in 14 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia; Middle East and the FGM diaspora across the US and Europe.
Before this, whilst in strategic human resources, complex change and marketing in Blue chip companies, Dr Ann-Marie graduated in Business, Cross Cultural Studies, and Psychology, holding degrees in each. Having run her own NGO and Charities Consultancy company, she also gained much governance, strategy and leadership
skills and experience. As a board member of seven charities, she has been responsible for diverse strategy, fundraising, global health and anti-FGM pioneering projects over the last few decades.
Ann-Marie is on expert panels with the Metropolitan Police, Child Abuse Linked to
Faith and Belief (CALFB), and the World Bank. She frequently reviews academic papers and lectures on FGM alongside related topics.
Her book, Overcoming – My Fight Against FGM, was published in 18 June 2021.
Anush joined Orchid Project in June 2021 from her role as the Director of Global Campaigns at the United for Global Mental Health. Prior to that, Anush spent 7 years at the largest voluntary organisation for girls and young women, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) as the Head of Advocacy and External Relations. In WAGGGS she led the global advocacy work and the oversight of the global Stop the Violence campaign that reached over 70 countries. Her previous roles were mostly within the United Nations family, focusing on gender equality and labour migration. At Orchid Project, Anush oversees policy, advocacy and communications work. She is passionate about girls’ rights and empowerment and social justice.
With over 30 years of experience in international development, Sean has worked with the highest levels of leadership, consulting with clients across Africa, the Middle East, the European Union and the United States. Over this time Sean has developed extensive social capital – a global network of trusted local partners.
Sean is now leveraging this social capital to bring proven real-world expertise, invaluable grassroots access and experienced impact pathways to research projects. Working at the nexus between practice and theory, the resulting interdisciplinary collaborations have the potential to produce high-quality knowledge that can shape programming and inform policy.
Sean is also a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Sean’s research explores FGM/C in diaspora communities.
Brenda Dora is a human rights lawyer with a cumulative eight (8) years technical experience
and expertise in Child Protection; Child Rights Governance; Policy Advocacy and Influencing
in Ending Harmful Cultural Practices; Partnerships, Coalition Building and Government
Engagement; Gender Rights Activism; Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health.
She joins the Orchid Project from Africa Capacity Alliance where she was the Policy and
Advocacy Advisor and her role was centred towards working with civil society organizations,
coalition partners, consortiums, and networks on how to leverage on national, sub-regional,
regional and global advocacy spaces to strategically influence and shape public policy in the
promotion of children’s rights with specific focus being Ending Female Genital
Mutilation/Cutting and Child Marriage.
She considers herself a womanist who is passionate about women and girls, and is
proactively engaged in initiatives that advance the rights of women and children.
Kimberley joined Orchid Project in January 2019 and shares responsibility for donor relationships and fundraising. Previously, Kimberley has managed projects that address inequality and violence in Higher Education and local community spheres, and has led research into antisocial behavior and hate-motivated violence against minority groups within the University Sector. She is impassioned to accelerate and enrich the movement to end FGC, through stewarding and connecting with funders.
Ewelina Joined Orchid project in March 2022, but before joining the company she used to work in accounts/finance sector.
Ewelina started her finance journey as a finance assistant where she learnt a variety of skills, including financial management, budgeting and forecasting, balance sheet reconciliation, and month-end closure of accounts.
In her role as Finance Assistant at the Orchid project, Ewelina has become an integral part of the Finance team. Mostly supporting Finance & Ops Manager in the daily functions and providing expertise in administration
Saada is the Finance and Operations Manager at Orchid Project. She’s passionate about human rights and was inspired to join Orchid Project in its mission and vision to end FGC in 2018. Saada is responsible for leading the project financial management, compliance and control, day-to-day orchid project finances and overseeing orchid project partners on aspects of budget management.
Prior to joining Orchid Project, Saada worked as a Project Support Officer at axiom International supporting a capacity-building programme in Somaliland for the country’s justice system on behalf of the FCDO. The highlight of her work at Axiom was the successful coordination of an international meeting on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Saada is working towards her CIMA qualification to become a chartered global management accountant.
After working in various capacities in law firms for 15 years, in both Australia and the UK, Danica sought a more rewarding and philanthropic career. She studied English & Creative Writing and Media & Cultural Studies at the University of Chichester, then began editing for the research arm of 28 Too Many (now part of Orchid Project) in 2015.
Danica specialises in writing and editing pieces related to the media and social sciences; however, she has also edited manuscripts (including the occasional romance novel!) and a variety of other texts on theology, marketing, the music and publishing industries, high-control groups, and – a subject that hits close to home for her – health and disability. She has a particular desire to promote media literacy, evidence-based practice, and the sharing of knowledge and learning.
Macharia is a development and social sciences professional with over fifteen years’ experience in developing, managing, monitoring and evaluating national, regional and international programs in the areas of gender and youth equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights and civil society strengthening.
Prior to joining Orchid Macharia worked as National coordinator for the youth anti FGM network coordinating youth led NGOs, CBOs, and activists in the 22 hotspot counties where FGC is prevalent in Kenya. He has vast experience in managing comprehensive and integrated gender and youth advocacy projects targeting vulnerable girls, women and young people. The programmes are aimed at addressing issues around violence against women and empowering them on poverty alleviation initiatives. Over the years he has assisted in mobilizing for networks and have coordinated programmes between Kenya, Norway, Kuwait, United Kingdom, East Africa, West Africa and southern Africa regions.
Hassan, a Chartered Certified Accountant; FCCA, started his career with a firm of Accountants and then moved into industry, Commerce and Charity sector in Management and Finance roles. A commercially astute, qualified accountant who effectively combines proven technical knowledge with considerable cross-industry experience. Hassan has worked at senior level at SME’s within Industry, the not for profit sector, in welfare/disabilities charities and Arts/Education sector. Specialises in improving the quality and accuracy of financial information with expertise in change management, improvements in processes and procedures and system implementation to bring efficiency to operations. Hassan is passionate about human rights and social injustice.
Kirigo Njenga joins Orchid Project as Advocacy Officer to support the Africa Led Movement in influencing policy to end FGC through global advocacy, capacity building, technical support, and research.
Prior to joining Orchid Project, Kirigo was the Africa Coordinator at 28 Too Many, where she was responsible for supporting research and influencing policy on harmful practices at regional and national level. She was also involved in building the capacity of grassroot organisations in using evidence to inform advocacy and programming towards ending FGC.
She comes from a background as a human rights lawyer, researcher and policy and advocacy professional with over 10 years’ experience in litigation, policy development and capacity building in the areas of gender, women, girls and children rights.
She is passionate about human rights, gender equality and ending violence against women and girls.
Fiona joined Orchid Project in January 2022 from her role as Senior Trusts Manager at Leonard Cheshire. Here, she spent 6 years fundraising and managing grants from Trusts & Foundations to support children and adults with disabilities in Asia and Africa to access education and employment. Prior to that, Fiona spent 4 years at WaterAid as Programme Funding Officer for East Africa, where she worked with governmental donors to increase access to water, sanitation and hygiene in East Africa. Her previous roles include fundraising at organisations focusing on human rights, environmental rights and children’s rights. At Orchid Project, Fiona oversees all fundraising activity. She is passionate about children and girls’ rights as well as gender empowerment.
Kwesi is the Finance and Operations Manager (Maternity Cover) at Orchid Project. He is enthusiastic about human rights and was inspired to join Orchid Project in its mission while exposed to such issues at work at the Red Cross and alongside the International Committee of the Red Cross. He was also part of the co-chair BAME committee at the Redcross.
Before joining Orchid Project, Kwesi worked as a word as the Head of Operations for an executive coaching company but has a background in Financial Services in legal & corporate immigration
Kwesi is responsible for leading the project financial management, compliance and control, day-to-day orchid project finances and overseeing orchid project partners on aspects of budget management.
Sophie has been a freelance journalist since her early twenties. She has worked for content editors ‘Editorial Intelligence’ creating podcast content and writing in depth reports for a varied range of clients. Over 2020 Sophie lead a social mobility networking partnering with Google, linking mentors to young people who want to set up social enterprises.
For six years Sophie worked as the Communications Executive for the NGO Women for Refugee Women and worked on the campaign ‘Set Her Free’ to stop the detention of asylum seeking women.
Sophie has been to Sierra Leone to work as a Communications Adviser for a small local NGO providing health care for women and girls and then the educational charity ‘We Yone Child, which provides education for children in neglected communities.
Shannon has worked in international development since 2010 working primarily with civil society organisations around themes of health, economic empowerment and gender-based violence. Shannon has a particular interest in participatory research and community mobilisation approaches that harness local knowledge and enable action at the grassroots. She is passionate about creating learning resources and accessible information for activists and practitioners to enable them to make use of evidence to increase their impact.
Shannon holds an M.Sc. in Health, Community and Development from the London School of Economics.
Birgitte heard Julia, Founder of Orchid Project, speak when Orchid Project was still not officially an NGO. Birgitte was inspired by Julia’s vision of a world free from FGC, and so helped set up Orchid Project and later on started the Danish association of Orchid Project with a group of like-minded Danish supporters. Birgitte has been part of developing Orchid Project’s strategy and projects from the beginning and has been fundraising for and visiting programmatic work in Kenya and Senegal since 2011. Apart from being Orchid Project’s representative and spokesperson in Denmark, Birgitte works as COO for a Danish Conference agency. Birgitte holds a Masters in accounting and auditing and has worked in the advertising business for many years.
Cécile is Managing Director with Bain Capital in London. Prior to this, Cécile was with Morgan Stanley for nine years, most recently as Head of Global Fundraising for the Private Equity Fund of Funds business. Cécile has also worked for the financial sponsors group at JPMorgan and at HVS International, and is a founding member of Level 20, a non-profit organisation that aims to inspire women to join and succeed in the private equity industry.
Jim is a senior development professional who was part of the UK Department For International Development (DFID) leadership team. He was most recently DFID’s Director for Western and Southern Africa and before that for South Asia. He has worked in India, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania and in senior positions in the Cabinet Office and Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Carolyn is the Deputy Director of Communications for Europe and the Middle East at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is responsible for the foundation’s communications strategy in these regions, which seeks to raise awareness of the foundation and the initiatives that it supports and works closely with the government relations and advocacy functions to mobilise resources for international development. Previously, Carolyn was Global Communications Director at Logica, the FTSE 250 technology and business service company.
Dimiana is an education strategist focused on social innovation, youth development, global citizenship, and inclusive entrepreneurship. She is a long time advocate for social justice and women, girls, and children’s protection and rights anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She served as Vice-Chair on the Trustee Board of 28 Too Many, now a part of Orchid Project. She has worked with government agencies in the GCC, along with higher education institutions and NGOs in different geographies, with a particular focus on the EMEA region. Her work has included managing projects for USAID and US State Department, along with work developing startups focused on advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She is founder of Global Vision Impact Consulting, US-based firm and founding member of People of Impact, a Dubai-based company, a social network to accelerate advancement towards achieving the SDGs.
Mette is CEO and Co-founder of The Why Foundation, a non-profit, Peabody Award-Winning organisation striving to ensure that all people have free access to independent information. Mette has worked with documentary film for nearly 30 years, and is the former Head of Documentaries and Co-Productions at the Danish public service broadcaster Danmarks Radio. She is now focusing on modern-day slavery through the campaign WHY SLAVERY?
Elisabeth is an investment director with Impetus-PEF. Previously, she has worked as a philanthropic consultant with innovative, international funders: The Elton John AIDS Foundation, Comic Relief and The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. She worked for ten years with The Economist Intelligence Unit, where she was the Deputy Director of the Country Forecast Service, senior economist and editor of the Asia division and the lead South Asia analyst.
Carole is Head of the Office of Board Affairs at the Global Fund to fight AIDs, TB and Malaria. Prior to that she was the Executive Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health based out of WHO, which she joined after working at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Up until 2008 she worked for the UK Department For International Development (DFID) and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). Carole has served on the Boards of the Global Fund, UNAIDS, WHO, and humanitarian agencies in her FCO/DFID role. She also served for many years on the Board of the HIV Alliance. Carole started her career as a nurse and midwife, working in a refugee camp on the Thai/Cambodian border. She has a PhD in Public Health Policy, and graduate education in Anthropology and Health Systems Management.
Delphine was a Managing Director in Accenture, working across the UK and France. She recently stepped down from this role. She held a number of client roles in her 25 years career with Accenture, mainly focused on large scale transformation programmes and digital transformation in the High Tech sector.
Delphine has been a Trustee of Orchid project for 3 years. She spent seven months in 2022 as the Interim CEO for Orchid Project.
Joseph is a Senior Director in the Analytics team at the Global Innovation Fund (GIF) where he focuses on the measurement of economic and social impacts of prospective and portfolio investments. He works across various thematic areas including gender-based violence, health and livelihood-creation for the poorest people in developing countries. He previously worked with the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF), where he led the evaluation of over 30 e-governance projects across 15 African countries. Prior to ICF, Joseph worked in the Gender division of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations where he undertook assessment of gender inequalities in agriculture sub-sectors.
Rewan is a Medical Doctor from Egypt who has been active in the movement to end FGC for a number of years. Having been a Programme Officer for The Girl Generation in Egypt over the duration of the programme funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, Rewan’s knowledge of the issue and connection to activists across Africa is broad and strong. She has also Co-founded the First Regional Youth Network on HIV and SRHR “SIBA” supported by UNAIDS, UNDP and WHO.
Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in March 2019.
Julia founded and was Chief Executive Officer of Orchid Project from 2010 – 2019. Prior to this she spent 18 years in the corporate sector, specialising in transport policy. In 2008, she volunteered in Ethiopia, where she came to understand more about the devastating scale and impacts of FGC. In 2010, she led a panel discussing how to end FGC at the World Economic Forum in Davos and then spent time in Senegal and The Gambia, visiting communities and seeing incredible change happening at the grassroots level. This community-level change inspired her to set up Orchid Project to meet the vision of a world free from female genital cutting. In 2017 Julia was awarded an OBE for her work to end FGC. In 2019, Julia chose to hand over the leadership of Orchid Project. She now divides her time between volunteering and consulting globally with social justice organisations whose work she admires. She is on the International Board of Voluntary Services Overseas and is Chair of Under One Sky, a UK homelessness charity.
Launched the Asia Network to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) Consultation Report in collaboration with the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW).
Grethe Petersen joined Orchid Project as our CEO.
Responded to UK Department of International Development investment announcement on BBC News.
Fed into work on ending FGC by the UK Department of International Development, which announced a £50 million investment.
Launched “Aissata’s true story: choosing a world free from FGC” animation and comic in partnership with Tostan and Positive Negatives.
Held reception at the Canadian High Commission to the UK, marking the International Day to End FGC.
Held panel event at the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women.
Julia Lalla-Maharajh received an OBE for services to supporting an end to FGC.
Partnered with Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), in Kenya.
117 communities in Senegal publicly declared abandonment of FGC, with support through Orchid Project and Tostan’s partnership.
Co-hosted parliamentary event in Ottawa, Canada, with Islamic Relief Worldwide, attended by Canadian Minister of International Development, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau.
Supported conference held by Ifrah Foundation in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Supported baseline study in Somaliland in partnership with Action Aid and Edna Adan Hospital Foundation.
Partnered with transnational grassroots organisation, Sahiyo, in India and the USA.
Began outreach to Canadian Ministers and Global Affairs, Canada.
Showcased partners’ work at European Development Days in Brussels.
Hosted event at Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Julia Lalla-Maharajh gave TEDx talk at London Business School.
Held event and supported activists to attend Girl Summit in Zambia.
Orchid Project travelled to Senegal with Crown Princess Mary of Denmark to witness declaration of FGC abandonment in Kaolack.
Orchid Project’s Evidence Advisory Group was established.
Held event during the 59th Commission on the Status of Women in New York, highlighting FGC as an issue outside Africa.
Held event at the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, with deputy chairs of UNICEF and UNFPA.
Held event in Danish parliament with ministers from Sweden, Norway and the UK.
Began lobbying for inclusion of indicator dedicated to FGC within the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
First Orchid Project Knowledge Sharing Workshop is held in Kuria, Kenya.
Held event at the UK Department of International Development at Girl Summit 2014 (Pictured: Activists Sister Fa and Jay Kamara Frederick).
Attended second Middle East and Asia Conference to End FGC in Istanbul.
Julia Lalla-Maharajh joined an advisory group to the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening MP.
Supported first declaration of FGC abandonment ceremony in Bamako, Mali through partnership with Tostan.
Held reception with Orchid Project Denmark welcoming US Ambassador to mark the International Day to End FGC.
Partnered with the Education Center for the Advancement of Women (ECAW), in Kenya.
Worked alongside UK Department of International Development civil servants ahead of the government’s first investment into ending FGC of £35 million.
Journalists from the London Evening Standard and The Times newspapers travelled to Senegal with Orchid Project, to witness communities publicly declaring abandonment of FGC.
Partnered with grassroots organisation, S.A.F.E. Kenya.
Fed into work on ending FGC by the UK Department of International Development, which announced a £35 million investment.
Held reception in House of Lords marking the International Day to End FGC.
Joined with global civil society supporting the UN General Assembly Resolution against FGC.
Presented a Theory of Change for ending FGC to 80 social development advisers at the UK Department for International Development.
Gave evidence to Human Rights Council on FGC in Indonesia.
Launched ‘Social Mobilisation Programme’ in partnership with Tostan in Senegal. (Pictured: Malick Niang, SMP lead, Tostan)
Partnered with hip hop artist Sister Fa (pictured) to support artist workshop in Senegal.
Held reception in House of Commons marking the International Day to End FGC.
Orchid Project gains charitable registration in the UK and partners with West African grassroots organisation, Tostan.
Travelled to West Africa to witness communities declaring an end to FGC through the work of Tostan. Julia was inspired to set up Orchid Project.
Having won the “Davos Debates” YouTube competition, Julia took the issue of FGC to the World Economic Forum.
Julia Lalla-Maharajh volunteered in Ethiopia and found out more about the extent and scale of female genital cutting around the world.
At least 4.1 million girls around the world are currently at risk of being cut every year.
Your donation will help us accelerate an end to female genital cutting (FGC) around the world.