Zainab Salbi to Speak at School of Social Work Commencement

May 1, 2007 @ 4:00 am

For Immediate Release

May 1, 2007

New York, NY – Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International, will address graduates of the Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW) at their commencement ceremony on May 16, 2007.  The ceremony will be held in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center at 2pm. 

“We are honored to have Ms. Salbi as our commencement speaker for this year’s ceremony,” said Dean Jeanette Takamura. “Her personal experience as a survivor of war and her dedication to strengthening and educating other women survivors of war are inspirational.  The impact and achievements of Ms. Salbi’s work validate the very work of social work students and faculty alike.”

As a native of Iraq who came to the United States at the age of 19, Ms. Salbi’s experience with the Iran-Iraq war sensitized her to the plight of women in war worldwide. Ms. Salbi survived the bombs and horror of living in the shadows of Saddam Hussein. She writes about those terrifying years in her memoir, Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam(Gotham, 2005). She escaped Iraq and through adversity began to help other women whose lives had been torn apart by war. Her second book, The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope(National Geographic, 2006) chronicles the horrors of war and the challenges faced by women as they strove to rebuild their families and countries.

Since Ms. Salbi founded Women for Women International in 1993, tens of thousands of women have joined its strong movement to help women survivors of wars and civil strife to rebuild their lives. One by one, 93,000 women survivors of war have begun to contribute to the political and economic health of their societies.

Ms. Salbi’s work has brought her many accolades.  She was named “innovator of the month” by Time Magazine for her pioneering work as philanthropist. Forbes gave her its 2005 Trailblazer Award. In 1995, President Clinton honored Salbi at a White House ceremony for her humanitarian work. And, in 2006 Women for Women International was the recipient of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world’s largest humanitarian award.

The Columbia University commencement exercises will be held from 10:30am to 12:00pm in front of Low Library. The CUSSW commencement ceremony will be held at 2:00pm in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.  For more information, please visit or contact Jeannie Hii at 212-851-2327 or