What we do
Orchid Project has a vision of a world free from female genital cutting. Find out here who supports us and how you can get involved.
About Orchid Project
Why was Orchid Project was founded?
Orchid Project was founded in June 2010 and we gained official UK charitable status in April 2011. Julia Lalla-Maharajh, Orchid Project’s founder, was volunteering in Ethiopia when she came across the scale and extent of female genital cutting there. She returned to the UK determined to do something about this. She volunteered with various NGOs working on FGC to discover more about the possibilities for ending FGC.
In June 2009, she was on the Trafalgar Square Plinth, raising awareness about FGC. In January 2010, Julia entered a YouTube competition to attend the World Economic Forum. This called for one human rights activist to make a 3 minute video to highlight their urgent cause. In a global vote, she was sent to Davos to hold a debate with the head of UNICEF, Amnesty International and the UN Foundation. This was facilitated by Nick Kristof, co-author of Half the Sky.
At Davos Julia met leaders from all over the world. Far from being disinterested, everyone urged her on and the question asked over and again was: “What works in ending FGC? How can we work together to end it?”
She found some of the answers to these questions when in early 2011 she visited Tostan, a Senegal-based NGO whose community empowerment programme is leading to widespread abandonment across Western Africa. For the first time, instead of finding people being silenced, talking furtively about a taboo, working on the margins, Julia found entire communities celebrating their ability to choose a life without cutting.
Returning from Senegal, she began to realise that an organisation focusing solely on ending female genital cutting was necessary to give the issue the requisite attention it deserves. In 2011, Orchid Project was founded to fulfil this role.
Orchid Project’s annual report and accounts for our first year April 2011 – March 2012 are now available to read online.
Orchid Project is a charity registered in the UK as Project Orchid, number 1141057.
Project Orchid Ltd is a Company Limited by Guarantee number 7467568.
Our registered address is 17-18 Aylesbury Street, London EC1R 0DB
Who supports Orchid Project?
Orchid receives support from Trusts and Foundations, individual donors and funds raised by its supporter group based in Copenhagen, Foreningen Orchid Project Danmark.
Orchid Project has gratefully received funding from:
If you are a trust or foundation looking to fund an organisation like Orchid Project, please get in touch with us.
If you would like to donate as an individual, either as a one-off or regular donation, please do so here.
Trustees and staff
Orchid Project has a small team of employees (a few) and volunteers (lots) who work in our office in central London. Julia Lalla-Maharajh is CEO & Founder. What unites us is a shared belief in empowering communities to work to end the social norm of female genital cutting and seeing abandonment happen within the next generation.
Orchid Project is governed by a Board of Trustees who are also Directors of Project Orchid Ltd:
Jim Drummond is a senior development professional who was part of DFID’s 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 FCO.
Angela Jameson worked at The Times newspaper for 10 years, writing news and features on business and industry. Since leaving The Times in 2010 she writes about business for British newspapers, as well as advising major companies on communications strategies.
Emma McGuigan is a senior executive in Accenture’s Technology practice, a team dedicated to the application of technology to business solutions for clients. 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 driving decisive action & tangible results on retention, recruitment & progression for Accenture women; running initiatives in the UK and across Europe.
Elisabeth Paulson (Chair) is a philanthropic consultant who has worked with innovative, international funders: The Elton John AIDS Foundation, Comic Relief and The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. She worked for 10 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.
Michael Ritto has had a career that started in the music industry, working with Sony in the 70s, building up to running, then owning a number of music businesses that are prominent in Denmark. As an entrepreneur, Michael is committed to investing in projects that make a real difference. His involvement with Orchid started when he saw Julia speak and was instantly captured by the tremendous possibility of ending FGC within a generation.
Steen Rosenfalck is a solicitor and Managing Partner of Miller Rosenfalck LLP an international law firm. He is qualified as both a Danish advokat and a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. As Chairman of the British-Nordic Lawyers Association and committee member of other not for profit organisations, he brings extensive board-level experience to his role with Orchid.
Jeremy White is an Education Consultant who spent 32 years in secondary education including eight years as Headteacher of a large mixed secondary school in the Home Counties. He spent two years in education consultancy, supporting the roll-out of the Academy programme, before two years of voluntary service in sub-Saharan Africa: one year at the Ministry of Education, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and one year as Education Management Advisor in the Eastern Province of Rwanda.
Sarah Wigley is a communications specialist, working in both public relations consultancy and on in-house communications for brands such as Forte Hotels and Hertz Europe, Middle East and Africa. Consciously switching to the charitable sector, Sarah became the first Communications Director for Whizz-Kidz, the UK movement for disabled children, and latterly a Trustee on the Whizz-Kidz board.