About Us

Orchid Project is a UK-based NGO that is catalysing the global movement to end female genital cutting (FGC). FGC is a human rights violation that harms the lives of girls, women and their communities. Orchid Project partners with pioneering grassroots organisations around the world, and shares knowledge and best practice to accelerate change. Orchid Project also advocates among governments and global leaders to ensure work to end FGC is prioritised.

Together, we can create a world free from FGC.

Miranda Dobson
Communications Manager

Miranda joined the Orchid Project team in September 2017, and is responsible for all aspects of the organisation’s communication work to share and amplify how FGC can end globally. Prior to joining Orchid Project, she gained experience as a journalist, a marketer for Oxford University Press, and most recently within charity communications. She is passionate about women’s rights, and set up the Oxford branch of anti-street harassment organisation, Hollaback! She is also a Trustee for FGM/C rights-based charity, Oxford Against Cutting.

Read More
Kimberly Ellis
Fundraising Officer

Kimberley joined Orchid Project in January 2019 and shares responsibility of 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.

Read More
Birgitte Zachau Handwerk
Fundraiser and COO for Orchid Project’s Danish association

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.

Read More
Lola Godeau
Programmes Assistant

Lola joined Orchid Project in November 2018 to support our Programmes team. She provides operational support to the department, whilst engaging with both the knowledge sharing and partner support elements of programmes, and assisting with monitoring and evaluation activities. She gained experience in programme design and advocating for women’s rights both with UN Women and at the Wonder Foundation. She worked extensively on FGC research during her MSc. (Hons.) in Law and Anthropology at the London School of Economics, where she researched the role of law in British anti-cutting campaigns. She holds a BSc (Hons.) in Anthropology from University College London.

Read More
Saada Ibrahim
Finance & Operations Officer

Saada joined Orchid Project in August 2018 and plays a critical support role across all departments. She has several years of administrative experience working in the international development sector. Passionate about human rights, she was inspired to join Orchid Project in its mission to end FGC. She holds a BA in Development Studies from Admas University (1st honours) and has previously worked for Axiom International Ltd as Project Assistant where she coordinated an international meeting on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read More
Julia Lalla-Maharajh OBE
Founder

Julia set up Orchid Project having spent 18 years in the corporate transport sector. 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. In 2017 Julia was awarded an OBE for her work to end FGC.

Read More
Giorgio Mariani
Senior Development Manager

Giorgio is responsible for developing and managing Orchid Project’s relationships with a variety of funding partners, from major donors to institutional and governmental funders. Giorgio has worked in the international development space for several years, previously working as Programme Partnerships Manager at Fairtrade Foundation. He is passionate about helping to build a wide and diverse movement that includes funders, campaigners, donors, and implementing partners, all working together to end FGC across the world.

Read More
Clodagh McCarthy
Senior Programmes Manager

Clodagh is responsible for managing Orchid Project’s growing programmes portfolio – working with grassroots partners to design, implement, monitor and evaluate programmes, showcasing the impact of our work. Prior to joining Orchid Project, she gained experience in programme design and monitoring and evaluation as Senior Programmes Manager with Restless Development. She is passionate about girls’ empowerment, youth participation and youth engagement in data and accountability.

Read More
Grethe Petersen
Chief Executive Officer

Grethe joined Orchid Project in August 2019, from her role as Programme Director, Impact Investment at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). Prior to this, Grethe led the Policy & Advocacy team at CIFF where, amongst other things, she led the establishment and management of the SheDecides support unit at CIFF to campaign for women’s rights. Prior to her roles with CIFF, Grethe spent nine years with Marie Stopes International (MSI), latterly as Regional Director, East and Southern Africa where she led a team of 2,100 people and held a budget of £57 million. Previous roles at MSI included Director for the Prevention of Maternal Deaths from Unwanted Pregnancy and Ethiopian Country Director, based in Addis Ababa for three years. Grethe received an MBA from UC Berkeley in California.

Read More
Susan Place Everhart
Chief Operating Officer

Susan joined Orchid Project in 2016. She has spent more than 25 years in both the private and not-for-profit sectors, most recently as Executive Director of an international NGO implementing community development programmes in Haiti. Prior to that she was involved in microfinance development in rural China while living in Shanghai, and has spent many years in the international business consulting arena advising corporations on business strategy across borders.

Read More
Jenna Richards
Programmes Manager

Jenna joined Orchid Project in January 2016. In her current role she supports work with our partners, associates and fellows across our programmatic work. Jenna has previously volunteered in Kenya and Tanzania working on community programmes within healthcare, women’s rights and education. She also volunteered on youth programmes in India and indigenous rights projects with VSO in Cambodia. She holds a BA in International Development from the University of Sussex.

Read More
Lo Riches
Advocacy & Policy Officer

Lo joined Orchid Project in January 2019 and supports all advocacy and policy objectives towards influencing global stakeholders. Lo has broad experience delivering human rights policy and advocacy objectives around women’s rights and fundamental freedoms, both in Geneva and Cambodia with the UN’s Human Rights Office (OHCHR). She has further experience in human rights monitoring and research with Amnesty International’s West Africa section, and with the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. She holds a BA (Hons) in International Relations from the University of Nottingham, and a Masters in Human Rights from Sciences Po, Paris, where she specialised in international human rights law, international criminal law, and gender issues. She has been elected to Amnesty International UK’s Feminist committee, and acts as an Amnesty International Country Coordinator. She speaks French and English.

Read More
Ebony Riddell Bamber
Head of Advocacy & Policy

Ebony joined Orchid Project in January 2019 and leads Orchid Project’s international policy and advocacy work aimed at ending FGC. Ebony has over 15 years experience in international human rights and development, including leading global advocacy and campaigns for PEN International, Health Poverty Action, Save the Children and Amnesty International. She has also spent time working in social policy, community engagement and equalities in the UK and Brazil. Ebony is passionate about women’s rights, social justice and community empowerment and is a professor of capoeira (Brazilian dance/art form). She holds a MA in Human Rights from Birkbeck College, University of London.

Read More
Samina Yaqub
Senior Operations Manager

Samina joined Orchid Project in November 2018 and is responsible for HR, financial reporting, compliance and operations management. She has 20 years experience working in the third sector, mainly in the field of violence against women & girls (VAWG) and is committed to social justice and human rights. She has always been inspired to work towards ending gender inequality therefore was drawn to Orchid Project’s commitment to ending FGC in our lifetime. She holds a BA in Social Policy & Administration.

Read More
Cécile Belaman (Chair)

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.

Read More
Jim Drummond

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.

Read More
Carolyn Esser

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.

Read More
Mette Hoffmann Meyer

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?

Read More
Emma McGuigan

Emma is Group Technology Officer of Accenture’s Communications, Media and Technology Operating Group. She was formerly Managing Director with Accenture’s UK and Ireland Technology business. She has held a range of client roles in her 18 year career, ranging from client account lead to solution architect. In addition she drives the Accent on Women agenda for Technology in the UK.

Read More
Elisabeth Paulson

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.

Read More
Carole Presern

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.

Read More
Hibo Aden
Women’s Rights Facilitator, ActionAid International Somaliland

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in April 2016

Read More
Hoda Ali
Activist, Nurse, Community Outreach Project Manager

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in March 2019.

Read More
Farah Dirie
Project Officer, Women's Action Advocacy and Progress Organisation (WAAPO)

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in April 2016.

Read More
Sister Fa
Performer and Activist

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in November 2016.

Read More
Christine Ghati
Activist and Founder of Safe Engage Foundation Kuria

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in March 2019.

Read More
Rena Herdiyani
Vice Chairperson, Kalyanamitra

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in April 2018.

Read More
Jay Kamara Frederick
Activist and Founder of SKiM Network

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in March 2017.

Read More
Sarian Kamara
Community Facilitator, Activist and Founder, Keep the Drums Lose the Knife

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in July 2016.

Read More
Shaheeda Kirtane
Co-founder, Sahiyo

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in July 2016.

Read More
Amos Leuka
Co-Founder and Project Manager, SAFE Maa

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in July 2015.

Read More
Lilis Listyowati
Chairperson, Kalyanamitra

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in April 2018.

Read More
Cess Mugo
Programme Officer, Education Center for the Advancement of Women (ECAW)

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in July 2015.

Read More
Beatrice Muiyuro
Finance and Administration Manager, COVAW

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in December 2018.

Read More
Florence Mwikali
Programme Officer, COVAW

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in December 2018.

Read More
Olachi Peace Ojimadu
Entrepreneur, activist and Programmes Assistant for Youth Network for Community and Sustainable Development

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in March 2019.

Read More
Natalie Robi - Werema
Executive Director and Founder, Msichana Empowerment Kuria

Participated in Mercy Corps GirlSPARKS training in 2018.

Read More
Hawa Sesay
Executive Director, Hawa Trust

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in July 2016.

Read More
David Shakai
Outreach Officer and Performer, SAFE Maa

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in April 2016.

Read More
Naserian Simpano
Outreach Officer and Performer, SAFE Maa

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in April 2016.

Read More
Mariya Taher
Co-founder, Sahiyo

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in July 2016.

Read More
Hibo Wardere
Author and Activist

Participated in a Tostan Training Centre seminar in March 2017.

Read More

Orchid Project Timeline

  • February 2019

    February 2019

    3,000 Maasai came together on the International Day to End FGC 2019, through the work of SAFE Maa, to publicly declare an end to FGC.

  • 2018

    2018

    Responded to UK Department of International Development investment announcement on BBC News.

  • 2018

    Fed into work on ending FGC by the UK Department of International Development, which announced a £50 million investment.

  • October 2018

    October 2018

    Launched “Aissata’s true story: choosing a world free from FGC” animation and comic in partnership with Tostan and Positive Negatives.

  • 2018

    2018

    Held reception at the Canadian High Commission to the UK, marking the International Day to End FGC.

  • 2018

    Held panel event at the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women.

  • February 2017

    February 2017

    Julia Lalla-Maharajh received an OBE for services to supporting an end to FGC.

  • 2017

    Partnered with Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), in Kenya.

  • May 2017

    117 communities in Senegal publicly declared abandonment of FGC, with support through Orchid Project and Tostan’s partnership.

  • September 2016

    September 2016

    Co-hosted parliamentary event in Ottawa, Canada, with Islamic Relief Worldwide, attended by Canadian Minister of International Development, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau.

  • July 2016

    Supported conference held by Ifrah Foundation in Mogadishu, Somalia.

  • July 2016

    Supported baseline study in Somaliland in partnership with Action Aid and Edna Adan Hospital Foundation.

  • July 2016

    July 2016

    Partnered with transnational grassroots organisation, Sahiyo, in India and the USA.

  • June 2016

    Began outreach to Canadian Ministers and Global Affairs, Canada.

  • June 2016

    Showcased partners’ work at European Development Days in Brussels.

  • May 2016

    Hosted event at Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

  • April 2016

    April 2016

    Julia Lalla-Maharajh gave TEDx talk at London Business School.

  • November 2015

    Held event and supported activists to attend Girl Summit in Zambia.

  • November 2015

    November 2015

    Orchid Project travelled to Senegal with Crown Princess Mary of Denmark to witness declaration of FGC abandonment in Kaolack.

  • June 2015

    Orchid Project’s Evidence Advisory Group was established.

  • March 2015

    Held event during the 59th Commission on the Status of Women in New York, highlighting FGC as an issue outside Africa.

  • February 2015

    February 2015

    Held event at the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, with deputy chairs of UNICEF and UNFPA.

  • November 2014

    November 2014

    Held event in Danish parliament with ministers from Sweden, Norway and the UK.

  • October 2014

    Began lobbying for inclusion of indicator dedicated to FGC within the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • September 2014

    First Orchid Project Knowledge Sharing Workshop is held in Kuria, Kenya.

  • July 2014

    July 2014

    Held event at the UK Department of International Development at Girl Summit 2014 (Pictured: Activists Sister Fa and Jay Kamara Frederick).

  • June 2014

    Attended second Middle East and Asia Conference to End FGC in Istanbul.

  • March 2014

    Julia Lalla-Maharajh joined an advisory group to the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening MP.

  • February 2014

    February 2014

    Supported first declaration of FGC abandonment ceremony in Bamako, Mali through partnership with Tostan.

  • February 2014

    Held reception with Orchid Project Denmark welcoming US Ambassador to mark the International Day to End FGC.

  • January 2014

    January 2014

    Partnered with the Education Center for the Advancement of Women (ECAW), in Kenya.

  • 2013

    Worked alongside UK Department of International Development civil servants ahead of the government’s first investment into ending FGC of £35 million.

  • 2013

    Journalists from the London Evening Standard and The Times newspapers travelled to Senegal with Orchid Project, to witness communities publicly declaring abandonment of FGC.

  • 2013

    2013

    Partnered with grassroots organisation, S.A.F.E. Kenya.

  • March 2013

    Fed into work on ending FGC by the UK Department of International Development, which announced a £35 million investment.

  • 2013

    Held reception in House of Lords marking the International Day to End FGC.

  • December 2012

    Joined with global civil society supporting the UN General Assembly Resolution against FGC.

  • November 2012

    Presented a Theory of Change for ending FGC to 80 social development advisers at the UK Department for International Development.

  • 2012

    Gave evidence to Human Rights Council on FGC in Indonesia.

  • 2012

    2012

    Launched ‘Social Mobilisation Programme’ in partnership with Tostan in Senegal. (Pictured: Malick Niang, SMP lead, Tostan)

  • 2012

    2012

    Partnered with hip hop artist Sister Fa (pictured) to support artist workshop in Senegal.

  • February 2012

    Held reception in House of Commons marking the International Day to End FGC.

  • April 2011

    April 2011

    Orchid Project gains charitable registration in the UK and partners with West African grassroots organisation, Tostan.

  • January 2011

    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.

  • January 2010

    January 2010

    Having won the “Davos Debates” YouTube competition, Julia took the issue of FGC to the World Economic Forum.

  • 2009

    2009

    Julia Lalla-Maharajh volunteered in Ethiopia and found out more about the extent and scale of female genital cutting around the world.

Get updates from us

Stay up-to-date with stories of change, news and research about ending female genital cutting by signing up to our newsletter.

If you have any questions, please get in touch.