What is Zonta?
Founded in 1919, Zonta International is a global organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy. With more than 31,000 members belonging to more than 1,200 Zonta Clubs in 66 countries and geographic areas, Zontians all over the world volunteer their time, talents and support to local and international service projects, as well as scholarship programs aimed at fulfilling Zonta's mission and objectives.
- To improve the legal, political, economic, 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 executives in business and the professions.
- 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.
Zonta International, its districts and its clubs are nonsectarian and nonpartisan.
The founding of Zonta International occupies a unique moment in women's history. Established in Buffalo, New York, USA in 1919, early members were among the first generation of college-educated women, the first generation of North American women to vote, and a part of the growing, though still comparatively small, legion of women entering the workforce.
While working in a prominent role at the Buffalo Express at a time when women rarely held leadership positions, playwright and journalist Marian de Forest conceived the idea of an organization that would bring together women in executive positions. She envisioned a strong network that would help women reach their rightful places in the professions.
By March of 1919, five women had chartered Zonta International's first club, in Buffalo, New York. Membership grew rapidly. By 1920, a confederation of nine Zonta clubs had formed with 600 members.
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Each club submitted a list of appropriate names. The final vote was almost unanimously in favor of the Binghamton club's suggestion of "Zhonta" as it was then spelled. A letter from the Bureau of American Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. corrected the spelling to Zonta: "the word in question is from the Teton dialect of the Siouan stock of native American languages. The word signifies 'honest and trustworthy'." The name "Zonta International" was officially adopted at the 1930 Convention in Seattle, Washington, In September of that year, Zonta was incorporated under that name in the state of Illinois. The following year, the word "Zonta" was registered with the Trademark Division of the United States government in Washington, D.C.
April of 1920 saw the first executive session of the Confederation's officers convene in Rochester, New York. Among the considerable business conducted, the Zonta colors-- mahogany and gold--were chosen, and the Zonta emblem, designed by Buffalo Zontian and artist Helen Fuchs Gundlach, was officially authorized. In October 1920, the presidents of all existing clubs met in Syracuse, New York. Two important recommendations came out of the meeting: that the Zonta clubs take for their specific aim education and constructive work for girls and young women and that the Confederation's first convention be held in Syracuse in May of 1921.
The Confederation was incorporated under the laws of New York State in February 1922. Five years later, the Zonta Club of Niagara Falls, which was composed of members from Canada and the United States, organized Toronto as the first club in Canada, and Zonta became international. In 1931, Zonta was introduced to Europe when clubs in Vienna, Austria and Hamburg, Germany were organized. For the next decade, growth continued steadily in Europe and Scandinavia. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Zonta established itself in Latin America and Asia. By 1970, Zonta became truly worldwide when six African nations joined the organization. The last frontier was crossed in early 1991 when Szombathely, Hungary became the first Eastern European Zonta country.
The Yellow Rose
By Any Other Name, It's Still a Zonta Rose to Us
The beauty of a single yellow rose has been a favorite Zonta symbol for nearly 20 years.
The "Zonta Rose" was introduced at the 1984 Sydney Convention, thanks to the dedication and support of District 16 Zontians. In 1983, then Lieutenant Governor of District 16 (New Zealand), Valerie Webster, proposed that a breed of roses be developed as a living symbol of Zonta International. The renowned England-based nursery Harkness Roses worked to cultivate the flower, while Zontian Maureen Ross of Ross Roses in Adelaide, Australia enabled it to be introduced at the Convention.
Today, the lovely yellow bloom can be seen in members' gardens, memorial plantings, schools, hospitals, homes for the elderly, and in the forecourt of Australia's National Parliament in Canberra. Most recently, a Zonta Rose Bed was inaugurated at Bältesspännarparken in Gothenburg, Sweden, as part of the 2002 Zonta International Convention festivities.
But the Zonta Rose is much more than a lovely flower. Since 1999, it has served as the symbol of Zonta Rose Day, which falls on March 8 and coincides with International Women's Day. On this special day, Zontians worldwide are encouraged to publicly distribute yellow roses or items bearing the image of yellow roses, accompanied by information about Zonta International and issues relating to improving the lives of women.
The Zonta Rose itself has bright yellow blooms, produced in large sprays, and neatly spaced to form a bouquet. Each bloom is formed on its own long stem and has a particularly long life, whether on the bush or cut. Its fragrance is light and pleasant, while gardeners will appreciate that it is easy to grow and hardy, reaching an average of 1.2 meters in height.
The Zonta Rose is registered internationally under the name "Hartanna." It also goes by the name "Princess Alice" in Canada and the UK, and "Bright Lites" in the United States of America. The Yellow Rose is a ZONTA International emblem, which signifies: "Radiance and Beauty"