Barclays Women of the Year Award
The 2012 Barclays Women of the Year Award was presented to women’s rights activist, author and co-founder of Women for Women International, Zainab Salbi. The actress Dame Helen Mirren DBE, presented Zainab with the Award at the Women of the Year Lunch on Monday 22 October at the InterContinental Hotel in London.
The citation reads: “In a world of conflict, it requires someone with the rare spirit to ‘Shake the World’ and make a difference. This woman did just that. With true grit, she emerged as a rare and powerful voice to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of women in war-torn countries.”
Valerie Soranno Keating, Barclaycard Chief Executive, also presented the award and said: “To support one person through adversity is admirable, but to have helped as many women as Zainab has done is nothing short of extraordinary. I am proud to present her with the Barclays Woman of the Year award for her selfless work with the women survivors of war. Zainab’s courage, compassion and sheer tenacity are an inspiration to us all.”
Zainab Salbi comments, “”I am humbled and deeply honored to receive the Women of the Year Award. Serving marginalized women in conflict areas and countries of transition has been a privilege and my life’s blessing. It has been a journey of celebrating women’s strength and wisdom. I am convinced that the only way we can reach a world of prosperity, peace and stability is if we anchor our focus and investments worldwide on women and there is no other time than this very time. The Women of the Year Award is a reflection of such commitment to women’s voices worldwide and I am simply humbled to be in the position to receive it on behalf all the women I had the privilege of serving.”
Zainab Salbi was honoured by President Bill Clinton for her work in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993. In President Clinton’s 2008 book, Giving, he writes, “Women for Women was founded by Zainab Salbi and her husband, Amjad Atallah […] In response to the fate of women in rape camps in Bosnia, they created one-on-one ‘sister-to-sister’ connections between sponsors in the United States and survivors […] Women for Women has helped its sisters make durable market baskets in Rwanda; raise and sell fish in Columbia; cultivate and sell flowers in Kosovo; and form a baking cooperative in Afghanistan”.
Women for Women International started as a grass roots development organization helping women survivors of wars rebuild their lives. Since 1993, the organization has helped more than 315,000 women survivors of war access social and economic opportunities through a programme of rights awareness training, vocational skills education and access to income-generating opportunities, ultimately contributing to the political and economic health of their communities. Zainab served as the organization’s CEO from 1993 to 2011.
She wrote the bestseller 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, a collection of letters, first-person narratives and photographs of women who have survived the devastation of war. Zainab is currently working on her third book due to be published in 2013.
At the lunch, four other awards were presented to exceptional women who have each proved an inspiration to others through their courage, selflessness and dedication.