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Second charity chosen for SI Crieff

Women for Women International

‘Women for Women International’ is the second charity chosen for the new year of SI Crieff and at the recent club meeting, two members outlined the background and aims of this organisation. 

‘Women for Women’ was founded by Zainab Salbi, who was born in Iraq in 1969 but by 1993 was living in Washington DC.   Zainab’s parents were middle class, her mother was a teacher and her father a pilot. They were non-political but knew Saddam Hussein socially as her father had become Saddam’s private pilot and Zainab even called him ‘uncle’.  Then war with Iran broke out and life changed completely.  Her family were fully aware of just how brutal Saddam’s regime was and In 1989 Zainab was sent to Chicago and an arranged marriage.  Only years later did Zainab understand that her mother had sent her to America  for her own safety, but it proved to be an abusive relationship and after moving to Washington she paid her way through college and later met her present husband.

When Zainab saw a picture in a magazine of five totally traumatised young women sitting on a bed, survivors of rape in Bosnia, she knew that she had to do something. So Women for Women was founded and since then nearly 500,000 women survivors of war and conflict in eight countries  – Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Congo, Kosovo,  Nigeria, Rwanda and Sudan – have been helped. 

Whenever there is an outbreak of war or violence, women are uprooted from their homes, witness the death of loved ones and endure the trauma of rape.   Once the fighting is over, theirs is the task of rebuilding families and communities, and it is for these roles that Women for Women provide practical support. The charity runs 12-month training courses which equips the women to earn money, regain confidence and participate in community decisions.   A tight support group of 24 women is formed in this way which breaks the isolation caused by war.  They learn marketable skills such as tailoring, bread-making and poultry-keeping and receive business  training to turn their new skills into a stable income with which to support their family. Knowledge about health, good hygiene and nutrition is also an important part of the course, as is informing the women of their rights re voting, access to land, divorce, custody of children and domestic abuse issues.  The cost to sponsor one of the women for such a course costs the tiny sum of only £22 per month.

Zainab Salbi also feels very strongly that, to achieve lasting peace after wars and conflicts, it is essential that women be involved at the negotiating tables – not just one token woman but 50% should be women.  A shocking statistic to back this up is that one year of the world’s military budget equals 700 years of the UN’s military budget and 2,928 years of the UN’s budget for women.

For further information on how to help a woman rebuild her life this way visit .  For further information on SI Crieff contact Janice Wilson on 0746 8889011