That is what Dining for Women is an organization that hopes to end poverty and empower the women of the world simply by getting together once a month in each other’s homes. It is just as easy as baking a pie, literally.

In 2002 Marsha Wallace, a former nurse from Greenville, SC, saw an episode of Oprah where an Iraqi woman was interviewed about her experience as the daughter of Saddam Hussein’s personal pilot. The woman, Zainab Salbi, went on to start the Women for Women International organization with the goal of helping women on a global scale.

Marsha knew that she wanted to help women, but was not sure how she would go about doing this. The idea came to her suddenly after reading an article about hosting a potluck birthday dinner to raise money for charity. She said in an interview with Philanthropy journal, “I was meditating one day when the idea hit me like a thunderbolt. I had a birthday coming up and I decided to give this a try to raise money for Women to Women.”

The potluck dinner was a huge success and her friends wanted to continue the practice of getting together and helping people. After formally making Dining for Women in a 501(c)3, a non-profit organization, Marsha was ready to roll with her idea. There are now over 400 chapters throughout the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany as well as over 9,000 current active members. Once a month women from all walks of life in all parts of the globe get together with their chapter and bring fresh food to share with the group. The money they save from dining in as opposed to going out that night is then collected and sent to various good will groups who focus on the well-being and empowerment of women.

In the last 10 years DFW has raised an astounding $2.6 million for their supported causes and has helped to lift numerous women and their families out of the grip of poverty. With their donations Dining for Women has supported the launch of 60 female-led businesses, boosting the incomes and livelihoods of 300 women and about 1,500 children in Kenya, and sent 75 women in India to school for a literacy education with books and supplies. And that is just the beginning of it. Every year since 2007 members of the organization have taken part in trips to various places around the world to meet with the groups they have helped fund and see the impact they made in person.

What started out as a simple birthday dinner gathering has turned into a multi-national campaign to empower, educate, assist, and change women. Now women are flocking to join the organization and Marsha Wallace was even included in Women for Women International’s cookbook. Their mission is to provide women around the world with better lives by funding programs that promote health, education, and economic self-sufficiency for women and girls living in extreme poverty.

– Chelsea Evans 

Sources: Dining for Women, Philanthropy Journal
Photo: Dining for Women

Zainab Salbi and Women for Women International

This is a global humanitarian Zainab Salbi. She is an Iraqi-born humanitarian that founded the organization Women for Women International. Salbi has dedicated the majority of her life to helping women in war-torn countries rebuild their lives and their communities. Growing up, her father was Saddam Hussein’s personal pilot and her family was firmly in the clutches of Hussein’s inner circle. After an unsuccessful arranged marriage in America to avoid the clasp of Hussein, Zainab remarried and founded Women for Women International.

In 1993 the news of rapes in concentration camps during the conflict in Bosnia propelled Salbi to found an organization to help female victims of war. The organization provides economic aid, emotional support, job skills training, and rights education to empower women and stop the cycle of violence.

Women for Women International currently works in eight war-torn countries. The organization provides a one-year program for women to receive job and business training, enabling them to earn a living. This program helps women understand their rights and liberties and provides them with the opportunity to become leaders in their communities.

Women for Women International has mobilized more than 300,000 people in 185 countries to support female victims of war. Their support has provided assistance to more than 351,000 women through education, microfinance programs, and small business development, as well as other initiatives. Women for Women International has been able to distribute $108 million in direct aid to women.

Women for Women International works in four modules. They aim to help women sustain incomes, be aware of their rights, be educated as family and community decision-makers, and provide them with social networks and safety nets for support.

Zainab Salbi has founded a massively successful and vitally important international aid organization. Women for Women International places female empowerment and recovery at the center of its philosophy to create positive social change in the world.

– Caitlin Zusy

Source: Women for Women International Ted Talk Profile
Photo: Zimbio