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There are at least thirty-two International Women’s Organisations in the world and at least ten in Australia. Every one is worthy of mention as they all do wonderful things in the cause of women’s rights.

One International Women’s Organisation registered in Australia with a fast growing membership is a service organisation with a strange name, ‘ZONTA’. The name ‘Zonta’ is from the Sioux Lakota language and it translates as ‘honest and trustworthy’.

In 1919 a group of business women in Buffalo, New York met and founded the first Zonta Club under the leadership of their first President Marian De Forest. The aims were to bring together women in recognised businesses and professions who were in executive and decision making roles. By 1923 Zonta Clubs had been established in many major cities in the United States and had become a Confederation. The Objectives of the organisation were:

  • To improve the legal, political, eco-
  • nomic, educational, health and professional status of women at the global and local level through service and advocacy.
  • To work for the advancement of understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of members.
  • To promote justice and universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • To be united internationally to foster high ethical standards, to implement service programs, and to provide mutual support and fellowship for members who serve their communities, their nations and the world.
  • To be non sectarian and non partisan. In 1927 with the incorporation of the Zonta Club of Toronto Canada the Con-
  • federation became Zonta International.

Zonta, in addition to its International Service Programs, introduced a number of Educational and Awards programs.

Zonta 2 Members of the Zonta Club of Botany Bay Inc. creating breast care cushions for women who have experienced mastectomies. Photo courtesy of Zonta International District 24 Inc.The famous woman pilot who disappeared over the Pacific was a member of Zonta and Zonta International established the Amelia Earhart Fellowship in 1938, to be awarded annually to women pursuing Ph.D doctoral degrees in aerospace-related sciences or aerospace-related engineering. The Fellowships, currently worth $US10,000 each, are awarded to 35 Fellows around the globe each year and may be used at any university or college offering accredited post-graduate courses and degrees in these fields.

The Jane M Klausman Woman in Business Scholarship was established in 1998 to encourage undergraduate women to enter careers and seek leadership positions in business-related fields. Zonta has awarded 357 scholarships to women from 47 countries.

In 1990 Zonta introduced The Young Women in Public Affairs Award Program. The program honours young women aged from 16 to 19 who demonstrate a commitment to leadership in public policy, government and volunteer organisations. Zonta Districts nominate candidates for the program.

One of Zonta’s longest running programs is the Z Club and Golden Z Club, established in 1948. The Z Club and Golden Z Club program helps highschool, college and university students develop leadership skills, promote career exploration and encourage members to participate in community, school and international service projects.

Zonta has International Programs and strategies for the prevention of violence against women and Education Programs in Leadership and Youth Development. Clubs in Zonta Districts, amongst many other things provide birthing kits for women who do not have access to medical care and provide breast care cushions for women who have experienced mastectomies.

Zonta International is divided into districts of which there are three in Australia, each district comprising a number of clubs. Local clubs not only support Zonta’s International Programs but they also support local projects designed to empower women through advocacy and service.

Like all service organisations, Zonta welcomes new members and more information may be found at www.zonta.org.

Article extracted from Freemason magazine, December 2015, page 7.

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