Zainab Salbi has created a legacy that stretches across international borders. Salbi’s journey began at the age of 23 when she founded Women for Women International. This humanitarian organization supports female survivors of war by providing them with the resources and skills needed to rebuild their lives. Throughout her tenure, from 1993 to 2011, the organization went from assisting 30 women internationally to aiding over 420,000 and amassed a global distribution of over $146 million in aid.
Salbi understood the importance and impact of someone’s unique narrative and decided to delve into the world of literature. Her works are created with the focused purpose of giving a voice to the voiceless and offering a glimpse into their often-overlooked worlds. They include Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny, Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam (co-authored with Laurie Buckland), The Other Side of War, and Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope.
She dove into the world of television, becoming the executive editor and host of shows such as “Through Her Eyes” with Yahoo News, “#MeToo, Now What?” with PBS, “The Zainab Salbi Project” with Huffington Post, and “The Nida’a Show” with TLC Arabia. Each series was created to provide women with stories of transformation, resilience, and courage to empower others and shed light on the realities of those forgotten.
Now, Salbi has set her sights on climate activism but still focuses on women’s stories and issues. Thus, the creation of Daughters for Earth.
The organization provides funding for climate solutions, increases awareness about the vital role women play in climate change, and mobilizes other daughters of Mother Earth to take proactive steps to protect our planet through programs such as “The Hummingbird Effect.” In 2023, their inaugural year, Daughters for Earth have already provided $1.2 million to 50 women’s projects spanning 24 countries.
But to have such outreach in their first year, Salbi and her co-founder Sofia de Meyer knew they needed to create a council that reflects the diverse views of those most affected by climate change. They made two councils of over 50 women focused on effecting change—The Wise Daughters Council and their Advisory Council. Some notable members include Farwiza Farhan (founder and chair at HAkA), Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka (founder of Conservation Through Public Health), Helena Gualinga (climate justice and human rights defender), Xiye Bastida (co-founder of Re-Earth Initiative), Nemonte Nenquimo (co-Founder of Ceibo Alliance, 2020 Goldman Prize Winner), Leymah Gbowee (founder and president of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner), and many, many more inconceivably powerful, determined, and dedicated women.
Zainab Salbi’s journey from founding a humanitarian organization to becoming a voice in literature and media, and now a climate activist, is a testament to her relentless commitment to social change and empowerment. Her inclusion in Worth magazine’s 2023 Worthy 100 list is a well-deserved recognition of a career dedicated to elevating marginalized voices and driving meaningful impact on a global scale.