President 2004-2006

Mary Ellen Bittner



Zonta is active in more than 69 countries and has about 32 000 members.
This organization has a great variety of members mainly women, who lead different lives
but share a common goal: to improve the legal, professional, political and economic status of women throughout the world.

Zonta is an international service club, inter professional, apolitical and non- denominational. It provides common ground for members, who have responsible positions in business and the professions. Its members use their abilities in the service of others through programs which promote women's health, education and their economic, social and cultural lives.

Zonta has three International Service Projects and a number of permanent scholarships supported and financed by the 1250 Zonta clubs around the world. These projects and scholarships benefit women and children, particularly through organizing education and training. Each club also has its own local program.

Zonta is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO), and has an advisory position in the Economic and Social Council of UN. It has observers at the United Nations, UNESCO, UNICEF, ILO (International Labor Organization) and the Council of Europe. Zonta International has representatives in the United Nations in Geneva, New York, Paris and Vienna.

Zonta International supports ratification of the UN Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and of
the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

Zonta International is committed to the principle that women's rights are
human rights.

Membership of Zonta not only provides an opportunity to improve the status of women; it provides fun and friendship with like-minded women.

Click below to see how Zonta International is organized:

Zonta International Organization and Communication Chart

The United Nations
The Zonta Vision
Biannual Theme and Goals

A short history of Zonta

Zonta International was founded on November 8, 1919 in Buffalo (State of New York)
by Mary E Jenkins, editor of Herald of Syracuse. It brought together women who,
during the First World War, occupied important positions. Through their professional
work they became more aware of their moral, and social roles. They were inspired
by the example of the men's clubs (Rotary and Kiwanis), which had just been created, and they directed their action towards the promotion of women.

The Zonta Structure

Worldwide Zonta International has been divided into 30 districts each of which include
one or more countries. Zonta is directed by an International board which is led by the ZI President and composed of various international committees. The club delegates elect this ZI Board and the ZI President for a two-year period at the biennial International Convention.

The governor of each of the 30 districts establishes a link between the clubs, the
district, and the international Board.

The seat of Zonta International is located in Chicago. The total administration of Headquarters in Chicago comprises an Executive Director and a staff of approximately
17 employees.

The International Board 2004-2006 is composed of the following members:

Zonta International President - Mary Ellen Bittner, USA
Zonta International President-Elect - Olivia Ferry, Philippines
Zonta International Vice-President - Beryl Sten, Sweden
Zonta International Treasurer/Secretary - Darlene Kurtz, USA
Zonta International Director 2003-2005 - Vivian Cody, USA
Zonta International Director 2003-2005 - Mari Ramsten Vangdal, Norway
Zonta International Director 2004-2006 - Annette Binder, Germany
Zonta International Director 2004-2006 - Elba Pereyra de Gomensoro, Uruguay
Zonta International Director 2004-2006 - Maria Imelda (Dandy) Santos Gomez, Philippines
Zonta International Director 2004-2006 - Lynn McKenzie, New Zealand
Zonta International Director 2005-2007 - A. O. Omotayo Morgan, Nigeria
Zonta International Director 2005-2007 - Maria José Landeira Østergård, Denmark
Zonta International Director 2005-2007 - Simone Ovart Bruno, Italy

Zonta and The United Nations

The United Nations Committee consists of, but is not limited to, representatives appointed to the various United Nations sites. It disseminates and receives pertinent information and promotes relations between the United Nations, its agencies, and Zonta International. The United Nations Committee Chairman is Jackie Shapiro.

Zonta has eleven UN representatives and one consultant during the current biennium. Eight are in Europe and four in the United States. Additionally, Zonta has sent representatives to Economic Commissions in various regions. Zonta has often supplied panelists for "expert group" meetings of the UN such as a recent gathering on "Promoting Women's Enjoyment of their Economic and Social Rights" held in Turku, Finland.

The International UN Committee reports through the Zonta International UN Chair to the Zonta International Board and makes recommendations for actions

Europe - United Nations Subcommittee

Karin Nordmeyer - Coordinator for the UN - Subcommittee-Europe

The Subcommittee will focus on:

  • achieving progress for women in Europe.
  • utilizing Zontians' expertise through cooperation with decision-makers and lawmakers,
  • researching relevant women's issues,
  • sharing information with Zontians

    Karin will represent Zonta in the Council of Europe

The Zonta Vision

Zonta International wants to promote a world in which human rights and fundamental freedoms are ensured for all women and the legal, political, economic, educational, health, and professional rights of women are not restricted because of gender.

During the forthcoming biennium, Zonta will emphasize three specific goals.

Zonta International will work to:

- ensure that all women receive basic education and health care and that women have access to higher education on equal terms with men

-eradicate all forms of discrimination and violence against women through prevention and through development of innovative approaches to eliminate abuse

-eliminate trafficking in women in accordance with our support of the UN Protocol supplementing the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Biannual Program Goals

Focus on Our Mission

  • Focus on our important mission in order to really achieve progress for women
  • Select only service projects and advocacy efforts that aim at advancing the
    status of women
  • Strengthen our identity as an international organization by addressing global
  • Gain public recognition and trust through knowledge-based responsible actions
  • Become an organization whose opinions are sought and valued.

    Combine Service and Advocacy

  • Combine service and advocacy efforts to enhance the effects of our work.
  • Identify relevant women's issues and address those through actions that support each other.
  • Act at the proper level - club, district, international - cooperate when needed to maximize results.
  • Work with like-minded organizations when appropriate.

    Recruit, Retain, Rejuvenate

  • Recruit qualified dedicated members with diverse qualifications from many fields of activity
  • Retain members through meaningful service and advocacy, inspiring meetings, fellowship and fun
  • Rejuvenate clubs by showing flexibility, open minds; and opportunities for mentoring,leadership training and networking
  • Build a strong, committed and active membership for the future of our organization.

2004-2006 International Service Program Projects.

New Project:

NIGER - CARE International: Mata Masu Dubara " Women on the move"
MicroCredit* and health education for HIV/AIDS-Affected women in Niger.
2004-2006 Funding: US$297,393

*extension of very small loans to those outside the normal banking system, to very poor people for self-employment projects that generate income, allowing themselves to care for themselves and their families)

HIV/AIDS is a disease that affects the health, social and economic status of women. Women now account for almost half of all cases of HIV/AIDS. Research shows that limited access to information and low-income levels dramatically inscrease the risk of HIV infection, particulary among women.

CARE International is working to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS while providing care and support for those affected, and to find lasting solutions to wider social and economic problems that exacerbate the AIDS crises.

The CARE Mata Masu Dubara Project will:

  • Encourage positive attitude and behavior change and reduce the stigmatization of women by proving HIV/AIDS education and training materials to the 25 participating villages with an estimated population of 79,000 people.

  • Create, train and follow-up on 120 Mata Masu Dubara savings and loans groups for 3,600 women affected by HIV/AIDS

  • Develop a network of Mata Masu Dubara groups that will strengthen the collective voice of women in the region to advocate for improved HIV/AIDS services and a better social status.

  • Create a cadre of at least 120 Village Agents, or female leaders who will be responsible fo outreach and the formation of additional savings and loan groups with an HIV/AIDS component.

  • Strengthen the long-term sustainablity of local HIV/AIDS services by increasing the capacity of local organizations to provide services.

- Anti-trafficking Project -Phrase 11 - US$300,000 - ZONTA / STAR NETWORK

Trafficking in women and girls for sexual exploitation is a lucrative global industy and a serious issue that affects the economic, social and security conditions for women, their families, and communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH).

In the 2002-2004 Biennieum, the Zonta International Foundation awarded US$320,000 to the STAR Network of World Learning to conduct project activities for its Bosnia and Herzegovina Anti-Trafficking Community Mobilization project (BATCOM).

The BATCOM Project is designed to strenghthen the capacity of BH women to lead community mobization compaigns to prevent trafficking in women and girls for sexual exploitation, and to gnerate maximum levels of local involvement from health officials, police, teachers, cultural workers, religious leaders, and youth groups.

The project address both policy advocacy - for the education of public officials in designing enforceable laws and policies and stop trafficking, respond compassionately to victims, and punish offenders - and local prevention through vigorous community education directed at young people, families and schools.

AFGHANISTAN : Improving Women's Lives - US$50,160

In the 2004-2006 Biennium, the Afghan Institute of Learning will continue activities at the Women's Learning Center in Mir Bacha Kot and the girls' Home school, as well as begin a new Women's Learning Center, open a new permanent health facility, train female teachers, train additional birth attendants, and provide human rights education to women and girls. AIL believes there are at least 27,000 women and girls who will be direct beneficiaries of the AIL Women's Learning Center programs in Mir Bacha Kot in 2004-2006

Zonta has worked for over 30 years in collaboration with Unicef, Unifem, UNESCO.

UNICEF (US$50,000) Funding to Unicef in the 2004-2006 Biennium will accelerate Unicef activities toward eliminating Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus in Afghanistan by 2005 through the continuation of the immunization campaign and promotion of clean birthing activities.

UNICEF's goal in Afghanistan is to reduce the incidence of MNT to less than one case per 1,000 live births in every district by the year 2005. The foundation's funding will support immunization efforts for over 41,000 women, including three doses of the Tetanus Toxoid vaccine and vaccine delivery, as well as education on safe birthing practices, training, and national and district planning and coordination of the initiative.


The clubs organize a great variety of activities to collect the funds necessary for service actions which are organized on the local, regional and international level.

These actions are also organized in partnership with companies as patrons.

Operating expenses are exclusively financed by the member contributions.

Zonta International publishes quarterly:


This publication is in English, and sometimes with translations in French, German,Spanish Italian and Japanese etc.

, in France

©elaine taveau