About Us

Since 1993, Women for Women International has helped thousands of female survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts rebuild their lives and regain their sense of self. Through our year long programs, women are given the tools they need to get back on their feet and contribute to their community.

Founded by Zainab Salbi, Women for Women International operates in eight countries and helps women transform from victim to survivor to active citizen. Our programs provide:

  • Financial aid
  • Job training
  • Rights awareness
  • Leadership education

Women for Women International operates through direct donations and a unique sponsorship program, in which one woman sponsors a woman in one of our countries’ programs.



Our programs work

Since Women for Women International was founded:

  • In Rwanda, 15% of our program graduates were elected village leaders
  • 94% of program graduates in Afghanistan reported contributing to family decision-making
  • 80% of women from our Bosnia program said their self-confidence had improved
  • In Nigeria, 71% of our graduates reported their housing conditions improved following program participation
  • 73% of Sudanese participants said their economic situation was improved

Our work is not done. In the countries where we operate, many women are still unaware of their rights, are illiterate, experience high infant mortality rates and have not been given the chance to rehabilitate from the traumatic events of their lives.

The women who come to our programs are survivors—examples of the power of investing in women and girls worldwide.

About Lisa Shannon / Run for Congo Women

In 2006, Lisa Shannon’s life changed. She was watching an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” on which Women for Women International founder and CEO Zainab Salbi was explaining the crisis facing women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “I learned about Congo, widely called the worst place on earth to be a woman,” Lisa said. “Awakened to the atrocities—millions dead, women being raped and tortured, children starving and dying in shocking numbers—I had to do something.”

Moved by DRC survivors’ stories, Lisa took action, sponsoring two women in the DRC and starting a program called Run for Congo Women.

Lisa began running alone, raising nearly $28,000 on her first run. The movement has since expanded to runs and walks throughout the United States. Run for Congo Women participants have raised more than $600,000 — enough money to sponsor 1,444 women in the DRC.

During January and February 2007, Lisa traveled to Eastern DRC’s South Kivu province, and returned again in May 2008 and February 2010. Experiences from her trips inspired her newly released book, “A Thousand Sisters” (Seal Press, 2010). “‘A Thousand Sisters’ is a portrait of the world’s deadliest civil war through the intimate lens of friendship,” Lisa said.

Since 2006, Lisa was:

  • Named the 2006 Hero of Running by “Runner’s World” magazine
  • Featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”

Lisa currently lives in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, where a run will take place this summer—she no longer runs alone.

To learn more about Lisa and women in the DRC, visit the Web site for her book, “A Thousand Sisters,” at www.athousandsisters.com.



Women for Women International supports women in war and post-war regions—like our sisters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo— with financial assistance, job skills training, rights awareness education, trauma counseling, and small business assistance so they can rebuild their lives.

Special thanks to our sponsors:

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