Nimco Ali was born in Somalia and grew up in the UK, where she studied at Bristol University and went on to work as a civil servant and an independent training consultant. She is the co-founder, with psychotherapist Leyla Hussein, of Daughters of Eve, a non-profit organisation set up in 2010 to support and protect young women from communities that practise female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM is a set of procedures that involve partial or total removal of external female genitalia, including the clitoris and labia, and sometimes also infibulation – narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal by sewing up the labia. It is carried out before puberty, and often on girls very much younger.
FGM, which can prove fatal and often leads to medical complications, has been illegal in the UK since 1985, but was formerly considered a mainly cultural issue. Nimco Ali and Daughters of Eve have successfully campaigned for it to be recognised as child abuse.