Marie-Claire Kakpotia is a feminist and activist fighting to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Kakpotia is the founder and director of the NGO Les Orchidées Rouges, an organization jointly based in Bordeaux and Abidjan which works for the elimination of FGM and organizes legal and medical support for its victims.
Kakpotia is a survivor of FGM, which she underwent at age 9. Her mother was opposed, but on a vacation with her father’s family, she was lured to a “party” at which she was forcibly restrained and subjected to the procedure without any explanation or anything remotely resembling consent. The trauma and pain lingered for years.
Political crises and a successful career took her from Côte d’Ivoire to Senegal and eventually to France, where at age 34 Kakpotia underwent reconstructive surgery to reverse the damage done to her when she was only 9. Realizing that there was no organization to support women in her position, she founded Les Orchidées Rouges in Bordeaux.
The organization has since expanded beyond Bordeaux to other locations in France and in Kakpotia’s native Côte d’Ivoire. Its centers campaign against FGM and violence against women and provide holistic and multidisciplinary support for victims.
Winner of the 2018 Global Woman Award in the activist survivor category, Kakpotia also received the medal of the city of Bordeaux in 2020 and the Woman in Choir first prize from Dr. Pierre Ricaud for her commitment against gender-based violence and her work for women’s empowerment. She was a French government delegate at the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN headquarters in New York in 2023.