Inspired by Zainab Salbi because I believe women should always support other women in our everyday lives; because this concept has been taken to a whole new level through Women for Women International; because this organisation offers education and resources in order to empower women to embrace life again and actively step into a sustainable role within society after the ravages of war; because this is a matter of survival for those who have a voice but need a platform to be heard and given a compassionate and helping hand in the name of humanity. x apsara
Of the more than 35 million people displaced by conflict, according to the International Rescue Committee, the vast majority are women and children. In today's wars, fighting is no longer confined to the battlefield; 90% of those killed or wounded are civilians. Often driven from their homes, women are targeted for ethnic cleansing, raped, widowed and left as the sole providers for their families in societies that, in many cases, show little respect for their rights. The most urgent tasks of rebuilding daily life in a devastated nation--feeding a family, doing the laundry, taking children to school, shopping for basic necessities--fall to women. These challenges are critical to stabilizing a society, yet the world pays more attention to military and security issues.
One woman is trying to change that. "We hear much discussion about the front lines of war," says Zainab Salbi, founder of the Washington-based group Women for Women International. "We need to focus more attention on the back-line delivery of peace." Salbi's organization works to help women recover from the ravages of war and become active citizens by offering direct aid, job training, micro-credit loans, rights awareness and leadership education. Most of all, it gives women a voice.
Women for Women International works with socially excluded women in eight countries where war and conflict have devastated lives and communities. Each woman has her own story – some of loved ones murdered, others of physical and emotional trauma, most have endured a struggle for survival.
Women for Women International believes that lasting change can only be achieved when women have access to both knowledge and resources. Since its inception, hope has been given to more than 398,000 women survivors of war and conflict with a move toward economic self-sufficiency with a year-long programme of direct aid, rights education, job skills training, and small business development. WfWI has distributed $103 million in direct aid, micro-credit loans, and other programme services. Since 1993, Women for Women International has mobilized more than 285,000 women and men in 169 countries worldwide to reach out and support women survivors of war – one woman at a time.
Zainab Salbi is the author of two books. The national bestseller Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam documents her life growing up in Iraq 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, and The New York Times.
Zainab has been honored by President Bill Clinton for her 1993 work in Bosnia and Herzegovina and was also nominated by former President Clinton as one of the Harpers Bazaar's 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 Zainab was named one of the Top 100 Women: Activists and Campaigners by The Guardian. She was also named by Newsweek as one of the 100 Extraordinary Women who Shake the World  and was identified by the Economist Intelligence Unit as one of the most inspirational women in the world.
In this bold and heart-rending commentary, Zainab Salbi takes readers into the heart of Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Sudan to hear the stories of women who daily reclaim the lives of their families and communities from the ashes of conflict.
"War is not a computer-generated missile striking a digital map. War is the color of earth as it explodes in our faces, the sound of child pleading, the smell of smoke and fear. Women survivors of war are not the single image portrayed on the television screen, but the glue that holds families and countries together. Perhaps by understanding women, and the other side of war...we will have more humility in our discussions of wars...perhaps it is time to listen to women's side of history."
– Zainab Salbi, Founder of Women for Women International