Humanitarian, Author, and Media Personality
Oprah Winfrey named her as one of 25 women changing the world to People Magazine (2015), President Clinton named her as one of the 21st Century heroes to Harper’s Bazaar (2011) and Foreign Policy Magazine named her as one of the top 100 Global Thinkers (2016)
At the age of 23, Zainab founded Women for Women International, a grassroots humanitarian and development organization dedicated to helping women survivors of wars rebuild their lives. Under her leadership as the organization’s CEO (1993-2011), the organization grew from helping 30 women upon its inception to over 460 000 women in 8 conflict areas leading to a distribution of more than $140 million dollars in aid and loans, it has impacted more than 1.7 million family members.
In 2015, Zainab launched Adin Productions, a company specializing in content for women and by women. Under her leadership, she created and hosted the award winning The Nida’A show a talk show dedicated to addressing and inspiring women in the Arab world, The Zainab Salbi Project, an original global series in collaboration with Huffington Post US and AOL, #MeToo, Now What? original series with PBS and Trough Her Eyes with Yahoo News.
Zainab is the author of several books including the national bestseller Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam; The Other side of War; Women’s Stories of Survivor and Hope; If You Knew me you Would Care; and Freedom is an Inside Job. She is consistently identified as one of the most influential women around the world by Newsweek (2011), The Guardian (2015) and Fast Company (2015), Arabian Business (2016/17/18).
She is currently focused on Herflix, a platform of films about women and by women from all over the world as its co-founder and Chief Content Officer. She also serves as a jury member of The Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Prize (a 2.5 million dollars annual award), and a board member of Synergos Institute, and International refugee Assistant Project.
from the Ashaninka people
The son of rubber tree Dona Piti and the indigenous Antônio Piyãko, head of Apiwtxa village, Francisco and the brothers represent the union of two traditional Acrean peoples in the political and social struggle.
Francisco as the elder one, was always at the forefront of the search for organization and strengthening of his people. United, the Ashaninkas have gone through several phases and currently manage their territory fully, in a traditional way of life and in harmony with the forest.
But at the same time, they are socially organized for issues beyond the limits of their territory, such as the execution of socio-environmental projects in the village and in the surrounding communities, such as the Extractive Reserve of the Upper Juruá.
In 2015, the Ashaninkas were the first indigenous people to access resources from the Amazon Fund directly. The Alto Juruá project executed more than R$ 6 million, involving indigenous and non-indigenous communities located around the Kampa Indigenous Land of the Amônia River. The promotion of agroforestry management and production were the basis of the initiative.
Beyond rivers and forest
Whether in international meetings on the climate and environmental issue or in debates with indigenous communities about the autonomy of their movements, Francisco Piyãko always points out the importance of social organization for ensuring quality of life.
Piyãko was an advisor and secretary of the State government for indigenous peoples between 2003 and 2010. He then advised the presidency of the National Indian Foundation (Funai) on the management of Márcio Meira, during a moment of the Federal Government’s rapprochement with indigenous peoples. In 2018 he was a candidate for Federal Deputy by Psol do Acre.
Then the Ashaninka leader began to act with the indigenous movement and organization of its people outside the governmental sphere. “This accumulation of experiences that I learned in government, which I learned from indigenous peoples in the positions I held, I always have with me for my work,” Piyãko explains.
It is this vision of autonomy and organization of forest people that guides their campaign platform. An indigenous person living in the Amazon Forest will be able, together with all traditional peoples, to bring the national debate to the issues that are important, such as sustainable development and the guarantee of public policies for communities.
Testimonial – Collective sustainability
“Before ECO-92 in Rio de Janeiro, we were in a very big fight to demarcate our land. It was a very great tension that we saw in the 70s and 80s, already to the early 1990s, with a lot of conflict. We often lived, negotiating survival because it was a place of many owners, came to say that they had own that place and sent us from one corner to another. We lived inside the forest, fleeing this contact and this format, in which they wanted to condition us to slave labor.
After the achievements of the demarcation of the land and the union of the Forest Peoples, together with the leadership of Chico Mendes, we are at a moment when our reality is very clear: the sustainability of the forest will take place when rural and forest communities are strengthened and organized.
The great concern now is to give the opportunity of our people to keep the spirit of the forest, because we have always lived like this. We also want to expand this experience to other locations in Acre do Brasil, in order to show that all communities need access to their direct.
It is necessary to respect the values of those who live in the forest, and not just follow a capitalist logic. Society, the collective that is inside has other values that go beyond money. It is important, before any action or undertaking in a region like this, to understand that society, to dialogue with it to know what can what cannot.”