Founder, Women for Women International
“Building Bridges, Rebuilding Societies”
Thursday, October 6, 2011
"It’s simply not sustainable that the world is missing half of its population in decision making."
- Zainab Salbi
Zainab Salbi is founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a grassroots humanitarian and development organization helping women survivors of wars rebuild their lives. Since 1993, the organization has helped 250,000 women survivors of wars access social and economic opportunities through a program of rights awareness training, vocational skills education and access to income-generating opportunities, thereby ultimately contributing to the political and economic health of their communities.
In its 17-year history, the organization has distributed $95 million in direct aid, microcredit loans and other programs, and has impacted more than 800,000 family members. For its work “alleviating human suffering,” Women for Women International was awarded the 2006 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the first women’s organization to receive this honor.
Salbi is the author of two books: a national bestseller Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam (with Laurie Becklund) that documents her life under Saddam Hussein’s rule, and The Other Side of War: Women's Stories of Survival and Hope. Her work has been featured in major media outlets, including CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times and eight appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Salbi has been honored by Former President Bill Clinton for her work in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993, and was most recently nominated by him as one of Harper’s Bazaar 21st Century Heroines to honor her actions, faith and determination in making a difference. She is the recipient of the 2010 David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award and was named one of 22 members of the Clinton Global Initiative Lead program, which brings together a select group of accomplished young leaders to develop innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. In 2011 Salbi was named one of the Top 100 Women: Activists and Campaigners by The Guardian and was highlighted as a Female Faith Heroine by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. Salbi is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a member of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Civil Society Advisory Group focusing on U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325.
Salbi has a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University.