Zonta & the United Nations

Learn & Participate

The History of Zonta and the United Nations

Understanding the United Nations


According to Zonta’s 80thAnniversary Book… Zontian delegates, Elizabeth Gist Dozier (PIP 1950-52) and Georgia Boucher attended the inauguration of the United Nations in San Francisco, CA in 1945. The next year, Zonta observers were established in New York and Geneva for all UN sessions.   (Paris, France and Vienna, Austria would eventually be added as Zonta locations.) In 1948 a Universal Declaration of Human Rights is adopted by the UN General Assembly in Paris, France.

UN flag in possession of the Zonta Club of Geneva, NY
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) girls training center in Ramallah, Jordan which opened its doors on October 24, 1962 was Zonta’s first partnership with a United Nations agency. The UN built the center and paid staff salaries. Zonta paid each girl’s tuition of $500. The $500 covered the school, books, room and board, equipment and even a little spending money. The school consisted of a two year course study in teacher training, dress making, nursing, institutional management, and secretarial training. The application process for Ramallah consisted of an entrance exam, school grades and a personal interview.  At the conclusion of the program in 1974 over 570 scholarships had been donated by Zonta members around the world and Zonta members had contributed $327,000.
For the 1972-74 Biennium focus for Zontians and the UN was to establish mobile medical units to serve the health needs of children and mothers in remote areas of Ghana, West Africa.  Most people are familiar with UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund.  Some school students still raise money for this fund on Halloween.

In 1986 Zonta International became the first and largest NGO contributor to the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

For the 1998-2000 Biennium, the Prevention of Female Genital Circumcision (FGC) in cooperation with the UN was adopted.

Projects with the UN continue – The approved International Service and ZISVAW projects for 2016-2018 were:   Towards Elimination of Obstetric Fistula and the Reduction of Maternal and Newborn Mortality and Morbidity in Liberia, in partnership with UNFPA   Let Us Learn Madagascar: An Integrated Program for Adolescent Girls, in partnership with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF   The Future We Want: Creating sustainable foundations for addressing human trafficking and unsafe migration of women and girls in Nepal, in partnership with UN Women Initiative for Adolescent Girls in Niger: Knowledge for Dignity, in partnership with UNFPA.

Needless to say, Zonta Districts and local clubs are encouraged to have a Committee Chair to relay information about the many projects taking place – in the early years it may have been called the International Relations Committee, but now one of the Standing Committees is the United Nations Committee.

Zontians are also encouraged to take advantage of a tour of the United Nations organized by the League of Women Voters of New York State each fall.  Our District has often been a co-sponsor of the event, with a speaker/topic on women’s issues (great publicity for Zonta on the program/registration and discount rate for Zontians).  Several members from our district have participated in the event.