FGM survivors get OBEs in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Campaigners against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are among those recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for their efforts to improve people’s lives.

Nimco Ali and Dr Leyla Hussein, who were both victims of the practice as children, receive OBEs for services to tackling FGM and gender inequality.

Ms Ali said she has been battling to break the silence among survivors since being told “This is what happens to girls like you” by a teacher when she was just seven years old.

But her work and that of other campaigners has now brought the issue to the forefront of the public consciousness.

“In 2019 we are at the tipping point,” she said. “I know by 2030 we can live in a world where FGM is not practised.”

Ms Ali praised the work of the Government in committing funding to tackling FGM in Africa and said she was accepting the honour on behalf of all those affected by the practice in the continent.

“There are incredible women on the front line in Africa who are fighting to end FGM,” she said.

“I’m immensely privileged. FGM was a ridiculous thing that happened to me, but I also had access to education, I also had access to freedom that allows me today to sit here and say that I am a survivor of FGM, but also to say I am honoured to receive this on behalf of all of the African women, whose shoulders I sit on to be here today.”

Dr Hussein, a psychotherapist, now travels to countries around the world to campaign against FGM and said she uses the UK as a “great example”.

“For me, accepting this really is all of us accepting this award together because there’s lots of us doing this work. Me and Nimco are just doing a teeny, tiny bit of this,” she said.

Headteacher Elisabeth Carney-Haworth and her husband David, a retired police officer, also receive OBEs for their work with children affected by domestic abuse through their charity, Operation Encompass.

Their scheme, which ensures that the school of any child exposed to domestic violence, where police attend, is informed before the start of the school day, has now been rolled out across 37 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales.

“It’s been a turbulent journey over the years,” said Mrs Carney-Haworth. “But, as long as you realise the impact this can have even on one child, the tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of children that Operation Encompass can help means we cannot stop.”

Those furthering the education of disadvantaged youngsters are also recognised in the list.

Sonia Watson is given an OBE for services to diversity in architecture for her work as chief executive of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to help people who wish to embark on the planned career of the murdered teenager.

She said he had a 1% chance of becoming an architect at the time of his death in 1993 and that the figure now is slightly lower.

The work of the trust has seen 126 fully qualified architects, including eight with their own practices, and Ms Watson said: “We want to change that statistic. We are changing it and it will help if in this country we start to see the real change that Stephen wanted.”

Christie Spurling, the founder of charity N-Gage, which aims to help students re-engage with education, is given an MBE for services to young people in Greater Manchester.

Mr Spurling, who was himself expelled, said of he received news of the honour while he was in a school helping a child.

“I have come full circle that I’m able to do that and I’m hoping to inspire the next generation,” he said.

“My dream would be to open an academy or school for pupils who are really struggling.”

Soccer – Barclays Premier League – Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers – Etihad Stadium
Soccer – Barclays Premier League – Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers – Etihad Stadium

Former QPR manager Chris Ramsay, who has played and coached in every division, is recognised with an MBE for services to football and diversity in sport.

Ramsay, who has been a champion for British black and minority ethnic (BAME) coaches, said he felt “humble” to be honoured alongside unsung heroes as a “mere football soldier”.

“I want people to realise that somebody like myself, from Holloway, with a humble upbringing, can be sat here with such an illustrious group of people and open doors for other people,” he said.