Date and Time:
Thursday, October 6, 2011 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre
Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, a grassroots humanitarian organization, serves women survivors of war by helping them rebuild their lives through education, rights awareness and vocational training. Salbi discussed the challenges she faces in finding “practical solutions” to protecting women’s rights in the political sphere, as well as her goals for the future of her organization, as part of the Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series and the Jane Ellen Bergman Memorial Lecture Series on Women, Children and Human Rights.
Salbi advocated the power of utilizing media to change our realities and raise awareness. However, she argues that when there is war, the women’s story tends to come from the victim’s story. To prove this untrue, Salbi drew on anecdotes of strong women who, in spite of war, kept life going for their families and their communities. She says, “war is a microcosm of what happens in peace,” as people still fall in love, have parties and go to school. Too many times, she argues, this backline perspective of war is overshadowed by the frontline perspective of fighting.
Currently, Salbi is working to bring women’s voices to the political and economic sectors, and out of the social sectors where women typically remain. She believes that this is a practical way to address the most pressing women’s issues in non-Western nations, as this approach respects both the identities of those women and their cultural narratives. Peace and progress cannot be built if women, who make up over half the population, are not allowed to be a part of decision-making processes.
She encouraged the audience — especially young women — to serve other women by representing women’s rights outside of the civil sector. Going back to grassroots, she emphasizes that more than anything, it is important to start by building small bridges between individuals.
This lecture was part of the Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series, the Jane Ellen Bergman Memorial Lecture Series on Women, Children and Human Rights and the Women PeaceMakers 2011 symposium "Women, Media, Revolution."