During 1992-1995, an estimated 50,000 Bosnian women were subjected to rape as a weapon of war. Thousands more witnessed the killing of loved ones and destruction of their homes, and were left struggling to provide and care for their families whilst dealing with severe trauma. Survivors said that they felt invisible, that the world had forgotten about them, that no-one cared. After hearing these women’s stories, Zainab Salbi, an Iraqi-American humanitarian, entrepreneur and author, founded Women for Women International at the age of 23.
Women for Women International created ‘sister-to-sister’ connections between isolated women in Bosnia and individual ‘sponsor sisters’ around the world. A letter exchange provided these Bosnian women with solidarity and emotional support, along with small amounts of financial aid to help them meet their basic needs as they began to rebuild their lives. To this day, the approach remains inspired by this spirit of sisterhood, and the combination of social and economic investment. The organisation has gone on to support over half a million women across 8 conflict-affected countries to overcome the horrors of war and work towards a better future for themselves and their families.