The Other Side of War
Ms. Salbi passionately engages audiences with her personal experience as a survivor of war and her dedication to rebuilding communities after war, one woman at a time.
Zainab Salbi is the founder of Women for Women International and served as the organization's CEO from 1993 to 2011. Women for Women International is a grassroots humanitarian and development organization helping women survivors of wars rebuild their lives. 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. In its 18-year history, the organization has distributed more than $103 million in direct aid, micro credit loans, and has impacted more than 1.7 million family members. For its work “alleviating human suffering”, Women for Women International was awarded the 2006 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, becoming the first women’s organization to receive this honor.
Zainab 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. Publishers Weekly calls Between Two Worlds "the most honest account of life within Saddam's circle so far. It's an enlightening revelation of how, by barely perceptible stages, decent people make accommodations in a horrific regime." Only 11 years old when her father was chosen to serve as Saddam Hussein's personal pilot, Zainab and her family were often forced to spend weekends with Saddam where he watched their every move. Her mother eventually sent Zainab to America for an arranged marriage, but the marriage that was intended to save her turned out to be another world of tyranny and abuse. Zainab started over. She forged a new identity as a champion of women survivors of war and founded Women for Women International. Her work has been featured in major media outlets, including 8 appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
Zainab Salbi is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and is a member of the UN Secretary General’s Civil Society Advisory Group focusing on the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Zainab Salbi has a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University.