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Zonta Club International

In the early 1900s, working at a New York newspaper when women rarely held leadership positions, playwright and journalist Marian de Forest conceived the idea of a strong network of women in Executive positions who would work to their rightful place with the men. By March of 1919, five women achieved this mission by chartering the first Zonta Club in Buffalo, New York, USA. Membership grew rapidly. A confederation of nine Zonta clubs formed with 600 members. These members were among the first generation of college-educated women – the first generation of North American women to vote – and part of the growing legion of women entering the workforce.

On November 8, 1919, the Confederation drafted and adopted Bylaws and a constitution and selected the name Zhonta – a word meaning honest and trustworthy, derived from the language of the Native-American Sioux people. Later changed to Zonta, the word’s meaning was incorporated into the Zonta Emblem, along with its colors of mahogany and gold, at the first executive session of the Confederation’s officers in 1920. The Confederation became Zonta International when the first European Club, the Zonta Club of Vienna, Austria was formed in 1930. In September of that year, Zonta International was incorporated in the State of Illinois, USA.

Today there are 1249 Zonta Clubs in 68 countries and geographical areas all over the world. Celebrating 85 years in 2005, Zonta International continues to be on the front lines of the fight for women’s equal rights through local and global projects that promote economic self sufficiency; political equality; access to education and health; and the prevention of violence against women. Each year, Zontians dedicate hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours and millions of dollars.