Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday's Woman: Zainab Salbi

Women for Women

This week’s Wednesday’s Woman comes to you from Sperk*’s monthly contributor, Anna Mahler who writes at The Mommy Padawan.  She shares my passion for recognizing women who have seen suffering and have taken it upon themselves to do something about it.  This week her choice for Wednesday’s Woman is no different.

Anna Mahler
I consider Anna my friend—a friend who not only shares the desire to bring these amazing women into awareness, but also a friend who is always there for me, even when it’s tough for me to accept and reciprocate. 

After you read her Wednesday’s Woman submission, visit her space in the Web, The Mommy Padawan.  Padawan means student.  But she is also a teacher, a teacher who has taught me a lot and I am grateful.

Wednesday’s Woman – Zainab Salbi

"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)

Zainab Salbi

I was introduced to Women for Women International after learning about Lisa Shannon and the work she has been doing to women in the DR of Congo. I wanted to learn more and find out what I could do to help. This is where I learned about Women for Women International and the programs they have for sponsoring women in the Congo and other countries in need.

Reading through the website, learning about their programs and even the vision of the organization is truly inspiring:
Our VisionWomen for Women International envisions a world where no one is abused, poor, illiterate or marginalized; where members of communities have full and equal participation in the processes that ensure their health, well-being and economic independence; and where everyone has the freedom to define the scope of their life, their future and strive to achieve their full potential. (source)
Screenshot via TED
Once I dug a little deeper and started reading about Zainab Salbi, I was truly blown away.
Zainab Salbi is the founder of Women for Women International and has served as the CEO from 1993 to 2011.

Zainab was born in 1969 and was no stranger to living with a war at your doorsteps.  "I was born in Baghdad and lived there until I was 19," she says. "I learned to coexist with war. You wake up with the sound of a missile hitting a neighbor, and you say, 'OK, it's not me today.' And you go back to sleep." (source)

Zainab started Women for Women at the age of 23 with $2,000 from her wedding. A newlywed, she and her husband skipped their honeymoon and flew to Croatia after hearing reports on the news of refugee and rape camps.  Once there, they spent months helping women survivors and Zainab gathered information to help her create Women for Women International.

I personally can't imagine being that young and having the strength, maturity and bravery to make the choices and take the actions this woman did. And if that is not inspiring enough, visit the home page of her website,
I was born and raised in Iraq, I lived and worked in many war zones, I encountered displacement, I tasted loss, death and pain, and I believe! I believe in the possibilities of change. I believe in joy, in laughter and in dancing until the end. I believe in love and in forgiveness, and I am a witness to the possibility of healing. It is TIME for the new story to emerge. Welcome to my website.
To have lived and seen so much pain and loss and still have that much hope, positivity and love in your heart is incredible, it is a miracle and a blessing for each person who comes across it.

From Women for Women:
Since 1993, the organization has helped 316,000 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.

Zainab Salbi: Women, wartime and the dream of peace

photo credit: WeNews via photo pin cc
photo credit: WeNews via photo pin cc

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, I am so moved by this TED video you've included with the post. The pictures, the video - you took my words and created something even more beautiful and moving, thank you so much! And thank you for the wonderful introduction as well, you are an amazing woman and friend and I'm so grateful to know you!


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