Zainab Salbi, a humanitarian, TV Host, Commentator and bestselling author
At the age of 23, Zainab founded Women for Women International, a grassroots humanitarian and development organization dedicated to serving women survivors of wars by offering support, tools, and access to life-changing skills to move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency. Under her leadership as the organization’s CEO (1993-2011), the organization grew from helping 30 women upon its inception to more than 478,000 marginalized women in 8 conflict areas. It also distributed more than $120 million in direct aid and micro credit loans that impacted more than 1.7 million family members.
In her move to journalism and media, Zainab created and hosted several shows including: #MeToo, Now What? Original series on PBS (2018); The Zainab Salbi Project, original series on Huffington Post (2016); The Nidaa Show with TLC Arabic where she started with the historic first interview of Oprah Winfrey in the Arab world; and her latest Through Her Eyes with Zainab Salbi at Yahoo News. She frequently appears in the media as a commentator on current news.
Zainab is the author of several books including the national bestseller Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam, If You Knew Me You Would Care, and her latest, Freedom is An Inside Job: Owning Our Darkness and Our Light to Heal Ourselves and the World.
Zainab has been consistently identified as one of the women impacting the world. People Magazine named her as one of the “25 Women Changing The World” in 2016, Foreign Policy Magazine named her as one of the “100 Leading Global Thinkers," Fast Company identified her as one of “100 Most Creative People in Business,” The Guardian and Newsweek has listed her on their “Top 100 Women of Activists and Campaigners” and Harper’s Bazaar called her as "one of the 21st century heroes." In 2017, Arabian Business named Salbi as the “#1 Most Influential Arab Woman in the World” and has since been joined by Gulf Business to consistently name her as one of the World’s Most Influential Arabs. She was also identified as one of the “100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People" in 2019 by Watkins. She received the 2019 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal for her humanitarian work with Women War Survivors and for her Global Journalism.
Zainab was recently selected as a jury of The Hilton Humanitarian Prize – the biggest award for humanitarian work throughout the world. She also sits on the Board of Directors of Synergos and the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).
Zainab Salbi is available for:
• Keynote Addresses
• Moderating Panels
• Being the subject of or hosting a Fireside Chat
• As Mistress of Ceremonies for Events
• Community wide speaking engagements
• College and University Graduation Speeches
• Campus Residencies
Consider Zainab's books for "One Book - One Community" Reads.
About Zainab's book—
Freedom is an Inside Job:
Owning Our Darkness and Our Light to Heal Ourselves and the World
In Freedom Is an Inside Job, Zainab Salbi explores her own riveting journey to wholeness—and how embarking on such a journey enables each of us to create the world we want to live in. After years of working as a successful CEO and change-maker, Salbi realized that if she wanted to confront and heal the shadows of the world, she needed to face her own shadows first—and this could only be done by looking within. Through personal anecdotes, real-life stories, parables, and insightful guidance, Salbi takes us through a process of self-discovery. We learn to uncover our hidden motives and desires so we can live in alignment with our authentic values. “As long as we are conflicted within, we will continue to live in conflict without,” writes Salbi. “If we want to change the world, we must begin with ourselves.”
"If you want to know what true self power is then read this book. Zainab Salbi , a modern day icon of empowerment and an inspiration to millions of women and to men like myself shares her journey from an environment of subjugation and cruel circumstances to inner freedom and leadership.The poet Rumi said ” Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?” The prison is the mind forged shackles of our own conditioning. Zainab’s book will open your inner eye to the beauty of your own being.“
“A true spiritual seeker must eventually search inside her own self. This Zainab Salbi does with great consistency and courage in Freedom Is an Inside Job. Sharing her discoveries with determination and resolve, she demonstrates what is possible for anyone who sincerely desires to be part of a new imagination for changing the world.”
“Freedom comes from telling our own story, and empathy comes from listening to the stories of people very different from us. Zainab Salbi inspires us to do both. May her book help create bridges to a much bigger and kinder world.”
Speaking Focus: How to Heal in a Time of Divide
I came to this learning not from a theoretical studies but from my own experience dealing with prejudice, insults, and discrimination. It is from the ashes of not only my pain, but the pain of so many women I worked with from around the world that I have learned there is another way out, a productive way out, one that shows the triumph of hope over fear, and love over anger. If you are one who is longing to learn on how to bridge, heal, and unite in a time that is ruptured by many divides, this talk will help move your community toward healing and connection. I will share the meaning of safe space, how can we engage in real conversations without fear, how to show up with integrity and how to pave the path for reconciliation within our families, our communities, our colleagues, and our country. I promise to share my heart felt learnings with your community generously and with love.
Zainab's Other Topics Include:
- Islam unfiltered: What the religion stands for. How it is impacted by politics from radicalization to Islamophobia
- #MeToo, Now What? What's Next: How we got here and what we should do to create reconciliation between women and men.
- “Women, Wartime & the Dream of Peace” (SEE Zainab's TEDtalk - almost 600,000 views)
- Freedom is an Inside Job
- Women in the Lead: Making the 21st century the Feminine Century
- The Leadership Journey
- Consider a fireside chat on a full range of topics.
Zainab can also tailor a talk to your organization's needs: Virtual or In Person.
Zainab Salbi was eleven when her father was chosen to be
Saddam Hussein’s personal pilot and her family’s life was grafted onto
his. Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam is a riveting
quest for truth that deepens our understanding of the universal themes
of power, fear, sexual subjugation, and the question one generation asks
the one before it: How could you have let this happen to us?
If You Knew Me You Would Care represents a journey taken to find women who have survived wars, violence, and poverty in some of the most oppressive and dangerous place on Earth to collect their stories. A collaboration between women’s rights activist and Women for Women International founder Zainab Salbi and photographer Rennio Maifredi, the stories go beyond tears and victimhood and reveal joy, love, and forgiveness and what it means to be a powerful, female, survivor - a celebration of women’s stories and strength worldwide.
With stunning images by award-winning photographers Susan Meiselas, Lekha Singh, and Sylvia Plachy, Zainab Salbi presents a riveting collection of letters and first-person narratives by amazing women who survived war's devastation and now must find the strength to rebuild families and communities. Throbbing with pain and loss yet glowing with courage and hope, The Other Side of War explores six regions where Women for Women International, the organization she founded, has helped survivors of the world's most tumultuous countries learn new skills, open small businesses and forge bonds with sponsors.
Overviews by Salbi explain how each nation's history led to violent conflict; then, with searing eloquence, the women tell their stories—of horror, cruelty, and suffering but also of profound inspiration as they work toward renewal and toward the day their fierce determination is rewarded with productivity, prosperity, and lasting joy.
In Freedom Is an Inside Job, Zainab Salbi explores her own riveting journey to wholeness—and how embarking on such a journey enables each of us to create the world we want to live in.
After years of working as a successful CEO and change-maker, Salbi realized that if she wanted to confront and heal the shadows of the world, she needed to face her own shadows first—and this could only be done by looking within. Through personal anecdotes, real-life stories, parables, and insightful guidance, Salbi takes us through a process of self-discovery. We learn to uncover our hidden motives and desires so we can live in alignment with our authentic values. “As long as we are conflicted within, we will continue to live in conflict without,” writes Salbi. “If we want to change the world, we must begin with ourselves.”See More
Author, TV Commentator & Founder of Women for Women International
Episode 1 - The Zainab Salbi Project
Speaking with Oprah on The Shame of Growing Up in Saddam Hussein's Inner Circle.
Women for Women Int'l was the first women's organization to receive the prize presented for demonstrating success in alleviating human suffering.
Examining the scourge of Islamic extremism in Europe and what it means to be a Muslim woman in France today.
"When we speak our truth, we free ourself from fear."
Zainab Salbi hosts a national primetime five-part series on PBS beginning Friday, February 2 at 8:30pm ET/7:30pm CT
The Argument for Women's Rights Globally
Conversation with Zineb El Rhazoui, a journalist whose colleagues were killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack and Samia Hathroubi, a French Muslim activis
At the #movethedial Global Conference, Toronto, November 2018
Speaking on Women Building Bridges & Rebuilding Societies
The event features speakers whose exceptional achievements have served the causes of global justice and women’s rights.
Zainab was the 2016 Carol Hoffmann Collins Global Scholar-in-Residence at Mount Holyoke College
Zainab Addresses her fellow graduates in the Royal Concert Hall as she collects an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws
Tami Simon and Zainab discuss what it means to be an agent of social change while also navigating the everyday journey of being human.
"What makes Zainab one of the most inspiring women I’ve met isn’t her amazing personal story, but what she’s done with it.”
President Bill Clinton
“Zainab believes that you can change the world one woman at a time. What makes Zainab so different, and the inspiration that she is, was that she acted. She acted in way that has given birth to a movement of hope for women in war-torn countries across the world”
“A remarkable, astonishing memoir…more can be learned about Iraq from this book than from all the newscasts.”
Alice Walker, Author of The Color Purple
"Zainab delivered an extremely unique and impactful keynote at our #movethedial Global Summit in Toronto in November of 2018. She connected deeply with the audience and took us on a powerful journey. Her lived experience, deep empathy, knowledge and passion for women's rights and freedom was moving and inspiring for the entire audience of 1000, including numerous C suite executives moved into action by her profound words."
Jodi Kovitz, Founder & CEO #movethedial
"Zainab was phenomenal. She received a standing ovation from the audience and all the feedback on her presentation was great. I also think things had gone very smoothly in working with your agency. Both Laura and you were great to work with so I truly want to thank you for all your help in making our conference a huge success! I look forward to working with you again next year."
Ellen Yin-Wycoff, The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Freedom Is An Inside Job:
Owning Our Darkness and Our Light to Heal Ourselves and the World