founder and former CEO of Women for Women International, an organization dedicated to helping women rebuild their lives after suffering war and civil strife. Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq she grew up in a time of civil and political unrest. She came to the U.S. at a young age, and has since resided in the country while traveling to many other countries throughout the world to visit women who are desperately seeking to rebuild their lives after war. Zainab founded Women for Women International in 1993, and she remained CEO of the organization through 2011. The statistics of the organization are astounding; over 315,000 women have been helped, approximately 1.7 million family lives have been impacted, and $103 million has been distributed through either direct aid or microloans. Zainab had a vision that would not only give these women aid, but also the skills that they would need to quite literally rebuild their lives.
The ability to touch the lives of women throughout the world is not limited by Zainab’s efforts with Women for Women International; she is also an acclaimed author of three books (the most recent book released in March 2013), featured in various publications including the New York Times, a highly coveted speaker, and an activist who has a voice that people not only want to hear, but also listen to. She speaks on the issues of women’s empowerment and relevant foreign policy issues, and was described in 2008 by Time Magazine as someone who “gives women a voice.” Zainab has been honored as one of the 100 Extraordinary Women who Shake the World by Newsweek, one of the Top 100 Women Activists and Campaigners by the Guardian, and she was named one of the most inspirational women in the world by the Economic Intelligence Unit. Zainab is also a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative’s lead team.
“I find it amazing that the only group of people who are not fighting and not
killing and not pillaging and not burning and not raping, and the group of
people who are mostly—though not exclusively—who are keeping life going in the
midst of war, are not included in the negotiating table.”
- Zainab Salbi on women and war
There seem to be an infinite number of words that you could use to describe Zainab—inspirational, activist, humanitarian—and what it really comes down to is the fact that she is a visionary paving the way for the future of women. Zainab had the courage to do what she felt needed to be done in order to impact the lives of women suffering from civil strife throughout the world by founding Women for Women International, and she has used her voice in multiple ways to reach the women of the world. Whether it is through her books, articles, blog posts, speaking engagements or in person, Zainab’s strong and hopeful voice can be translated throughout the globe as one of truth and empowerment for the past, present, and future of women.
Information source: Women for Women International. Zainab Salbi. http://www.womenforwomen.org/about-women-for-women/zainab-salbi.php
Zainab Salbi, personal website. http://www.zainabsalbi.com/humanitarian
TED Speaker Zainab Salbi: Activist and Social Entrepreneur. http://www.ted.com/speakers/zainab_salbi.html