Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Zainab Salbi Receives JFK's The New Frontier Award

Last week, Zainab Salbi, the founder of Women For Women International, was awarded the annual John F. Kennedy's New Frontier Award along with Jay Williams, the youngest and the first African-American mayor of Youngstown, Ohio. In case you aren't familiar with the award, here's some background:

The New Frontier Awards are named after President Kennedy's bold challenge to Americans given in his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention on July 15, 1960:
We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier…a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils -- a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats. The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises -- it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook -- it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security…. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric…but I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier.

So, how does Zainab meet JFK's criteria? Here's how:

Zainab Salbi, 38, founded Women for Women International in 1993 to help women in war-torn regions restart their lives in ways that are independent, productive, and secure. The organization connects American women with women in war torn regions through a tiered sponsorship program that begins with direct financial and emotional support, and leads to greater awareness and understanding of women’s rights. Women for Women International also offers vocational and business skills training to women in war-torn and post-conflict societies, and provides access to income-generation support and affordable microcredit loans. To date, the organization has delivered $39 million in aid and microcredit loans to 120,000 women.

A native of Iraq who came to the United States at the age of 19, Salbi’s experience with the Iran-Iraq war sensitized her to the plight of women in wars around the world. She has written and spoken extensively on the use of rape and other forms of violence against women during war.

“Women who survive war are strong, resilient and courageous – they just need some support dealing with the aftermath of conflict,” she has said. “So, we give them the tools they need to help themselves and their families, while providing them with with the education to be leaders and advocates in their communities.”

Zainab is a ray of hope in a world filled with wars and conflicts.

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