When I first met Soraya Miré, we were lying flat on our backs on the polished wooden floor of a yoga studio, attempting to understand the directions of our pilates instructor. She had an uncanny ability to make me laugh through the pain of "impossible" physical contortions. I later discovered that she had been using that same ability to help countless women throughout the world deal with both physical and mental pain much more significant than anything I could ever imagine.
Soraya Miré is an award-winning director, writer and human rights activist. She has dedicated her entire adult life to serving as a voice for women who are unable to speak for themselves. Her cause is the eradication of female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice still common in parts of Africa, Asia and some Arab countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda. It is also practiced among ethnic groups in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan; groups in Oman, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Iraq, occupied Palestinian territories and immigrant communities in Europe, Australia, Canada and even the United States.
Miré’s passion is ignited by memories of her own personal experience with FGM as a thirteen-year-old girl growing up in a traditional Somali family. Determined to change the international policies and laws regarding the practice of FGM, Miré has testified before committees at the United Nations, the U.S. Senate Human Resources and Health Assembly and the World
She is the author of the recently published book, The Girl with Three Legs: A Memoir (Lawrence Hill Books, October 2011), a dramatic chronicle of the personal challenges she overcame as a survivor of FGM, a firsthand account of the violent global oppression of women and girls, and a testament to the empowerment of women.
Miré has lectured at Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government, Morehouse College, UCLA, Vanderbilt University, Stanford University, Spelman College, Emory University, San Francisco State, Howard University, USC, Moorpark College, Mount Saint Mary’s College and Lesley University. She wrote, directed and produced Fire Eyes, a documentary film and Red 772, a short film, both portraying the inhumanity, brutality and horror of this custom.
She is also the recipient of the “Humanitarian Award” at the United Nations Sub-Commission Sessions, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice “Winnie Mandela Award,” “Best Documentary” at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the “Human Rights Award” at the Third International Symposia on Circumcision at the University of Maryland, and Intact America’s “Personal Courage Award 2009.”
We are proud to have the privilege of knowing Soraya personally and are grateful for the work she has done to empower women on a global scale.