Waris Dirie (Somali: Waris Diiriye, Arabic: واريس ديري) (born in 1965) is a Somali model, author, actress and social activist.
From 1997 to 2003, she served as a UN Special Ambassador.
Humanitarian work, awards and honours
In 1997, Waris abandoned her modeling career to focus on her work against FGM. That same year, she was appointed the UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. In 2002, she founded the Desert Flower Foundation in Vienna, Austria, an organization aimed at raising awareness regarding the dangers surrounding FGM. Waris followed that in January 2009 with the establishment of the PPR Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights’, an organization she founded along with French tycoon François-Henri Pinault (CEO ofPPR) and his wife, Hollywood actress Salma Hayek. Waris has also started the Desert Dawn Foundation, which raises money for schools and clinics in her native Somalia, and supports the Zeitz Foundation, an organization focused on sustainable development and conservation.
Waris has received many prizes and awards for her humanitarian work and books including:
- Woman of the Year Award (2000) by Glamour magazine.
- Corine Award (2002) of the umbrella association of the German bookselling trade.
- Women’s World Award (2004) from former President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev.
- Bishop Óscar Romero Award (2005) by the Catholic Church.
- Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (2007) from former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.
- Prix des Générations (2007) by the World Demographic Association.
- Martin Buber Gold Medal from the Euriade Foundation (2008), founded by Werner Janssen in 1981.
- Gold medal of the President of the Republic of Italy (2010) for her achievements as a human rights activist.
- The Living Daylights (1987)
- Desert Flower (1998)
- Desert Dawn (2004)
- Desert Children (2005)
- Letter to my mother (2007)
- Schwarze Frau, weißes Land (2010)
- Saving Safa (2014)