Zainab Salbi

Zainab Salbi is the founder of Women for Women International and served as the organization's CEO from 1993 to 2011.

She is the author of two books, Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam (with Laurie Becklund), which 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 eight appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

In 1993, at the age of 23, Salbi established the organization to help women survivors of war move from crisis and instability to self-reliance and active citizenship. A survivor of war herself, Salbi grew up in Iraq, and was sent to America for an arranged, but ultimately abusive, marriage. Stranded in America by the Gulf War, she escaped the marriage and started her life over.

The organization has served more than 153,000 women in nine countries around the world, providing financial assistance, job skills, and rights awareness training.

Salbi has been honored by President Bill Clinton for her 1993 work in Bosnia and Herzegovina and was also nominated by President Clinton as one of the Harpers Bazaar's 21st Century Heroines to honor her actions, faith, and determination in making a difference.

She also 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. She was also named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of the 100 Extraordinary Women who Shake the World in 2011 and was identified by the Economist Intelligence Unit as one of the most inspirational women in the world.


What People are Saying About Zainab Salbi

“[Zainab Salbi is] a recognized force for women’s rights and self-sufficiency.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

Zainab Salbi at Omega