Category Archives: Uncategorized

International Women’s Day Virtual Breakfast

On March 8, 2021, we will celebrate International Women’s Day with our annual breakfast (this year virtually!). Join us to start your day with other fantastic women! Our speaker will focus on how to maintain mental health during this pandemic.
Tickets are only $12 at

16 Days of Activism: 25 November – 10 December: DAY 16

Today is “Human Rights Day!
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
Eleanor Roosevelt
Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.
2020 Theme: Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights
This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. We will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.
10 December is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-building the world we want, the need for global solidarity as well as our interconnectedness and shared humanity.
Under UN Human Rights’ generic call to action “Stand Up for Human rights”, we aim to engage the general public, our partners and the UN family to bolster transformative action and showcase practical and inspirational examples that can contribute to recovering better and fostering more resilient and just societies.

16 Days of Activism: 25 November – 10 December: DAY 15

Around the world, women are shining through as outstanding leaders as the COVID-19 pandemic escalates. From Germany to New Zealand and Denmark to Iceland, women leaders have shown clarity in their decisions and policies, they are compassionate, empathetic, strong communicators and they show solidarity. Her Excellency Vjosa Osmani, the first woman assembly president in Kosovo, has been praised for her professionalism in leading the assembly during the crisis. She is a Doctor of Legal Sciences, former professor and mother of two girls.
Q: Why is it important to increase women in leadership and of having women representatives in Kosovo’s[1] political setting?
Vjosa Osmani: When women participate in high-ranking political and state level circles they contribute to more balanced, gender-sensitive, environmentally considerate and forward-looking policies. It is only through such a policymaking approach that we stand a chance in meeting the CSW’s Sustainable Development Goals and in making this a genuine #DecadeOfAction and a #GenerationEquality.
Q: What does it mean to be a woman in a position of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Vjosa Osmani: Women leaders around the world have demonstrated successful management of the pandemic. They have been able to unify the public and to engage people on the importance of changing their everyday behaviors to help contain the virus’ spread and to flatten the curve. Although the burden of the pandemic falls heavily on everyone, there are several aspects that require a specific gender-centered approach, such as securing safe childbirth and controlling maternal mortality; the impact of school closure on women as primary caretakers; and its connection to workplace activities. In my capacity as assembly president, I am advocating for a continuous gender-sensitive approach so that women are given a sustained and long term equal treatment.
Q: As the president of the assembly, how have you been advocating to protect the rights of women and to mitigate the disproportionate impact of the pandemic?
Vjosa Osmani: During the pandemic, women in Kosovo have been exposed to serious social risks and high levels of vulnerability, as demonstrated by the rise in domestic violence cases since lockdown measures were introduced. I am consistently raising my voice about the pandemic’s gender dimensions, sharing relevant facts and information, while closely monitoring all government actions. In partnership with various organizations and initiatives, I have endeavored to raise awareness about the pandemic’s implications for women and girls. I joined the UN Women Kosovo campaign against domestic violence and worked closely with UNICEF on issues related to children’s health and the wellbeing of families.
Q: What role should men play when it comes to supporting women in politics?
Vjosa Osmani: A limited number of women hold leadership positions globally and the same applies to Kosovo.. Social productivity cannot be reached while people are marginalized, discriminated and face gender-based barriers. We, men and women, need to contribute to including more women in decision-making processes and to raise their representation in leadership positions. It is imperative to tackle the male-dominant culture that we cultivate at home from early ages. It is also our responsibility to raise our children free of stigmas and of traditional gender roles.
Q: How would you encourage women’s social and political leadership and contribute to greater awareness that they are able to occupy decision-making positions?
Vjosa Osmani: There are great examples of women in leadership positions and doing extraordinary work during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Kosovo and around the world. These illustrate why women should occupy more decision-making positions. Affirmative actions have helped Kosovo move towards equality in politics, but it is the competence that we have demonstrated which will drive a higher presence of women in leadership positions as an integral and sustainable part of our society. By building each other up, we will lift our societies to a better level of collective well-being.

16 Days of Activism: 25 November – 10 December: DAY 14

Globally, 21% of girls are married before they turn 18, robbing them of their childhood.
Each year, another 12 million girls under the age of 18 are married around the world. Child marriage is globally recognized as a harmful practice and a human rights violation. However, despite laws against it, the practice remains widespread and can be found in cultures, religions, ethnicities and countries around the world. Ending child marriage requires addressing, over a period of time, the complex sociocultural and structural factors underpinning the practice. As a result, the Global Program to End Child Marriage was designed to address the issue over a 15-year period from 2015 through 2030. During this time, the priority remains on engaging adolescent girls as key agents of change in the following 12 countries with high prevalence of child marriage: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.
Zonta has supported ending child marriage since 2014, contributing US$2 million to delay early marriage in Niger from 2014-2018. From 2018-2020, Zonta contributed US$2 million to the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Program to End Child Marriage – the first private-sector donor to the Global Program. In 2020, Zonta International announced an additional commitment of US$1,500,000 to UNICEF USA to support Phase II of the Global Program through 2022. Overall goals of Phase II include:
Elevating the voice and agency of adolescent girls.
Increasing resources and opportunities for adolescent girls and their families.
Enhancing legal and political action to prevent child marriage and to support married, divorced or widowed adolescent girls.
Marginalized adolescent girls improve their knowledge, skills and attitudes on their rights, relationships, sexual and reproductive health, and financial literacy, including in humanitarian contexts.
Adolescent boys, families, traditional and religious leaders, community groups and other influencers demonstrate more gender-equitable attitudes and support for girls’ rights.
Education, health, child protection and gender-based violence systems increase capacity to deliver coordinated, quality programs and services that meet the needs of adolescent girls and their families, including in humanitarian contexts.
National and sub-national social protection, poverty reduction and economic empowerment programs and services increase capacity to respond to the needs of the poorest adolescent girls and their families, including in humanitarian contexts.
Governments increase capacity to coordinate and implement national and sub-national action plans and systems to end child marriage.
Governments and NGOs increase capacity to generate, disseminate and use quality and timely evidence to inform policy and program design, track progress and document lessons.

16 Days of Activism: 25 November – 10 December: DAY 13

Adolescent Girls’ Health and Protection Project

s, especially girls, must have opportunities to empower themselves so they can speak up for their rights and develop the self-confidence and autonomy needed to take control of their lives and bodies. Significant inequities based on gender, age, geographic location, ethnicity and income persist for many Peruvian adolescents.

Defined by the Peruvian government as the ages of 12 to 17, adolescents constitute 11.2% of the population, or 3.5 million people. However, adolescents are often considered neither children nor adults and find themselves in between.
The Adolescent Girls’ Health and Protection project will contribute to guaranteeing the rights of indigenous and rural adolescents, especially girls, and respond to their needs by preventing pregnancy, addressing mental health concerns and providing a protective environment from violence by providing quality, gender-sensitive, and culturally adapted health, education and protection services.

Zonta International has committed US$1,000,000 to UNICEF USA to improve the capacity of services to respond to the health needs of adolescents—especially girls—in a timely manner and prevent violence in schools in the regions of Huancavelica and Ucayali. Specific objectives include:
• Improving the response of the health sector in the provision of quality, comprehensive and differentiated adolescent care, with an emphasis on mental health care and violence prevention for girls.
• Improving the capacity of the protection and education sectors to promote health and prevent and address all types of violence in schools, especially gender-based violence, in a timely manner.

• 10% increase in number of adolescents screened for mental health problems in project health facilities.
• 5% increase in number of adolescents with comprehensive health care in project health facilities.
• 100 health care professionals receive training on adolescent-friendly health care and how to provide adequate response to cases of sexual violence.
• 10 health facilities are trained to respond to cases of physical, psychological or sexual violence in coordination with other services.
• Eight project schools provide students with health promotion activities related to mental or sexual health and nutrition.
• 24 schools provide health promotion activities that promote healthy lifestyles and environments and implement validated physical, sexual and gender-based violence prevention and school-based response strategies.
• 72 principals and teachers are trained to recognize violence and implement violence response protocols using reporting mechanisms.
#16DaysOfActivism #ZontaSaysNO

16 Days of Activism: 25 November – 10 December: DAY 12

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Essentially, Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding (the vast majority of schools). While Title IX is a very short statute, Supreme Court decisions and guidance from the U.S. Department of Education have given it a broad scope covering sexual harassment and sexual violence. Under Title IX, schools are legally required to respond and remedy hostile educational environments and failure to do so is a violation that means a school could risk losing its federal funding.
While Title IX was previously a powerful tool to stop sexual violence and harassment in schools, on August 14th, 2020, the Department’s new Title IX rule went into effect. The Rule drastically rolls back protections for student survivors and makes it easier for schools to sweep sexual harassment under the rug. Visit Hands off IX resources and toolkit to learn more about personal rights in light of the rule and holding school administrations accountable.

16 Days of Activism: 25 November – 10 December: DAY 11

Survivors’ Corner elevates the voices of survivors of various traumas, including domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse, and exploitation. Its goal is to provide a safe place for survivors to connect and share their stories openly as part of their healing journey. At Survivors’ Corner there is a belief in the power of mentorship in helping its clients reach their full potential.
Survivors’ Corner provides holistic wellness-centric support groups for those who have decided the time is right to take charge of their lives and heal past traumas. Additionally, Survivors’ Corner provides basic needs to the local community and promotes self sufficiency and sovereignty amongst its clients.
Zonta International is a proud supporter of Survivors’ Corner.
With the support of many advocates and victims’ rights centric partners, Survivors’ Corner successfully spearheaded Senate Bill 48, which put an end to children marrying through parental consent in the state of Kentucky. Since this legislation was passed, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Georgia, and Florida have adopted similar legislation to the Kentucky bill. Now – Survivors’ Corner is mobilizing other states to take action in the fight against child marriage in the United States.
“Child Marriage extremely prevalent here in the United States,” said Donna Pollard, the founder of Survivors’ Corner. Pollard, who is from Kentucky, was married to a man nearly twice her age when she was 16 years old.
Here is her story and how she is now supporting others. . .
“My perpetrator was in a position of authority over me,” Pollard told CBSN. She said she grew up in an abusive household, and after her father died, when she was 14 years old, she was admitted to a behavioral health facility.
“Unfortunately, instead of receiving the help that I should have received at that facility, I was preyed upon by a mental health technician that worked there,” she said. “He was 29, and again, I was 14.”
When she was released, her mother, who she said had some mental health issues and also had been a child bride, consented to her marriage with the man when she was 16.
“This is after having two years of him grooming me and making me think that this was a true relationship,” she said. “He ended up exploiting me and abusing me and I did not have any means to escape.”
Because she was not an adult, she could not seek help at a domestic violence shelter or consent to her own medical treatment. The abuse reached a point where neighbors called the police, but “when the police showed up and child protective services, there was nothing that they could do because I was married to him,” she said.
“I can’t even file criminal charges against him in at least one of the states that’s involved in my case because of the fact I was married to him,” Pollard said. “The cycle perpetuates across generations and it causes survivors to carry with them such shame and such trauma.”
Pollard researched her family’s history and found that on her mother’s side, there was an underage marriage in each of the past five generations, as far back as she could trace.
“There’s no typical profile,” she said. “It could very well be correlated to poverty, it could also be correlated to parents that are trafficking their children to get money for drugs. And then in some cases, parents really have good intentions and they don’t realize that they are also being groomed by pedophiles that have horrible intentions for their child.”
There are only four states — Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey — that completely ban underage marriages. Most states have a minimum age of 18 but allow loopholes like parental consent that can leave girls vulnerable. In Kentucky, Pollard helped pass legislation “as protective as we felt we could make it given the current political landscape.”
“That is setting the floor at either 16 or 17, doing away with the parental consent portion and actually establishing clear and meaningful criteria that a judge would have to access prior to authorizing the marriage to occur,” she said.
Prior to the change, marriage bureau clerks had no authority to intervene even if they observed that the child did not want to get married, Pollard said. And in a case where a pregnancy was involved, there was no minimum age for marriage. #16DaysOfActivism #ZontaSaysNO #OrangeTheWorld

16 Days of Activism: 25 November – 10 December: DAY 10

In collaboration with partners such as Zonta International, UN Women is currently supporting implementation of women, peace and security commitments in more than 35 countries. This includes: support for strengthening women’s peace coalitions and help to prepare them for engagement in peace processes; work with peacekeepers to help detect and prevent conflict-related sexual violence; support to build justice and security institutions that protect women and girls from violence and discrimination; and initiatives to promote gender equality in humanitarian responses and public services that respond to women’s needs, ensure women’s access to economic opportunities, and build women’s engagement in public decision-making at national and local levels.

16 Days of Activism: 25 November – 10 December: DAY 9

Every Zonta member around the world says “NO” to
Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls


16 Days of Activism: 25 November – 10 December: DAY 8

Zonta International partners with several world global organizations that advocate for human rights. One very important partnership is with UN CSW (United Nations Commission on the Status of Women). For more than 70 years, the Commission has:

  • led discussions on inequalities and discrimination women and girls face
  • generated public attention on social taboos and broken stereotypes
  • driven action to advance the rights of women and girls everywhere

Women and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Gender equality is a right. Fulfilling this right is the best chance we have in meeting some of the most pressing challenges of our time—from economic crisis and lack of health care, to climate change, violence against women and escalating conflicts.

Women are not only more affected by these problems, but also possess ideas and leadership to solve them. The gender discrimination still holding too many women back, holds our world back too.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015, embody a roadmap for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one behind.

Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to each of the 17 goals. Only by ensuring the rights of women and girls across all the goals will we get to justice and inclusion, economies that work for all, and sustaining our shared environment now and for future generations.

This editorial package showcases UN Women’s 2018 flagship report, “Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda.” It features data, stories, videos and publications that illustrate how and why gender equality matters across all the Sustainable Development Goals, and how the goals affect the real lives of women and girls everywhere.

Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot

The new edition of this publication brings together the latest available evidence on gender equality across all 17 Goals, underscoring the progress made, but also the progress interrupted, as a result of COVID-19. View/download “The gender snapshot 2020” and “The gender snapshot 2019”.
Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda, UN Women’s flagship report, demonstrates through evidence, new data and analysis how women and girls are faring across the world, and what it will take to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Zonta International advocates promoting the human rights of women at international, national and local levels.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by world leaders in September 2015, provides the platform for action (chart shown below). Although many targets of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will improve women’s lives, the main focus for Zonta International advocacy is Goal No. 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” #OrangeTheWorld #ZontaSaysNO