Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Preview: Iraqi womens rights activist Zainab Salbi to speak at the Wyly Thursday
A survivor of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle, this woman has quite the story to tell.
DALLAS “It is an amazing privilege to live in the United States,” says Zainab Salbi. As the founder and CEO of Women for Women, this Iraqi-born American has become a trailblazer in the fight for womens rights in war-torn countries, including her homeland.
She will tell stories at the Wyly Theater on Thursday about those very issues.
A survivor of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle, Salbi’s childhood was littered with fear and distrust under the watchful eye of Hussein. Growing up in the war was a life lesson for her, from which she came to understand the effects of war on both the front and back lines. While the actual fighting took place on the front lines, some of the hardest battles were those fought behind-the-scenes. It is on the "back lines" that mothers, daughters and wives fought to keep their families together and safe, while threats of rape, mutilation, and death loomed — a story not heard often enough, Salbi said.
“People can choose to either become an active agent in maintaining [fear], or they can choose to speak out against it,” she said, ultimately becoming a voice for those who cannot.
She stresses that the plight of women is not just a womens issue. A partnership must exist between women and men; the female voice is only one aspect of change. While “the [women] in question” must “do something,” says Salbi, those being questioned -- men -- “must reach out and do something” as well.
Salbi started Women for Women 17 years ago, in 1993. She recognized the need for an advocate for women in countries being devastated by war. Because of her own childhood experience, she believes the greatest victims of war are women. She is thankful for the opportunities that she was afforded when she moved to America as a young woman, but stresses that her case was rare. Seventeen years after the inception of her organization, far too many women are still not safe, even in their own homes and communities, she says.
Next month Women for Women will host Join Me on the Bridge for a second year. Hosted on March 8, the event will celebrate International Women’s Day. It will serve as a catalyst to spread the word about the mission of Women for Women and the stories of women who continue to suffer from the despair of war.
The best way a person can help her cause is to “sponsor a woman,” Salbi says. Sponsoring a woman through Women for Women’s sponsorship program pays for training, teaches women skills to help their family and their community, and enables them to keep their integrity intact. She adds that people can also provide needed help by fundraising and getting the word out — becoming advocates for the mission.
Salbi credits her strength and commitment to her mother, whom she calls a wonderful woman. It was her mother who stressed the importance of remaining independent and not ever allowing others hurt her physically or verbally. These values and principles serve as the foundation of Women for Women.
Pegasus News Content partner - The Assignment Desk, DFW
- Looking for dinner and a game of bocce? Try Samar by Stephan Pyles
- Dallas Beer Kitchen promises "rare, hard to find" brews on Lowest Greenville
- Transit Bicycle Co. relocates to Lower Greenville
- Creepy rendering of Big Tex shows he's almost ready for the State Fair
- Photos: Dallas Heritage Village Charleston'd its way through history on Saturday