Zonta International

A Brief History of Zonta International

In Buffalo, NY in Jan. 1919, five women guests at a Kiwanis social conceived of a new service club- one composed of all women who were recognized leaders in business and the professions. The purpose was to be the standardization and dissemination of business principles & practices and to provide service to humanity through cooperative efforts. During the spring & summer of 1919, clubs were organized in Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton, Elmira & Syracuse, NY. The Confederation of Zonta Clubs was thus founded on November 08, 1919 in Buffalo. Its first theme was education for girls and young women.

Delegates from the first clubs met on November 08, 1919 to found the Confederation of Zonta Clubs. There was a Constitution, Bylaws, official colors of mahogany & gold, and criteria for membership & classification – but no name… Each club submitted suggestions and the name “ZONTA”, from the Teton dialect of Sioux, was chosen. Meaning “honest & trustworthy”, it was adopted at the 1930 Convention in Seattle. By then, there were clubs in Canada and, in 1931, Zonta was introduced to European women. From these early beginnings has developed a truly international service organization with over 34,000 members in 70 countries. Its headquarters are in our own District 6, in Chicago. Significantly, Zonta was given consultative status with the U.N.’s UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNESCO, ILO, and ECOSOC organizations.

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July 1, 2021
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  • 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 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.
  • Zonta International, its districts and its clubs are nonsectarian and nonpartisan.