Zonta International

Zonta International

What does Zonta International do?

Zonta International’s 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 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.

How does Zonta International work to advance the status of women?

Zonta International works to advance the status of women by:

  • leading advocacy efforts and acting to improve the lives of women
  • promoting strategies to prevent violence against women
  • funding scholarships and awards for women of exceptional ability and talent through the Zonta International Foundation
  • supporting programs aimed at improving women’s health, safety, and economic and political status through funding by the Zonta International Foundation
  • encouraging mentorship, friendship and networking among members

Where is Zonta International located?

Zonta International is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, USA. More than 1,200 Zonta Clubs operate in 67 countries and geographic areas worldwide.

How is Zonta International structured?

An individual, a Zontian, is a member of a Zonta Club. Zonta Clubs are members of Zonta International. To ease administration, Zonta International is divided into Districts. Clubs are assigned to Districts based on their geographical location.

Zonta International is governed on a biennial (two-year) basis. Democratically elected directors lead the organization at the Club, District and International levels.

What is the origin of the word Zonta?

“Zonta” is derived from a Lakhota (Teton Dakota), a language of the Native-American Sioux peoples, word meaning honest and trustworthy. It was adopted in 1919 to symbolize the combined qualities of honesty and trust, inspiration and the ability to work together for service and world understanding.

What is the history of Zonta International’s Headquarters building?

In 1932, Zonta International moved its headquarters from Buffalo, NY, USA to Chicago, IL, USA. In 1986, the Zonta International Convention Body voted to purchase the building at 557 West Randolph in Chicago’s downtown West Loop neighborhood that now houses Zonta’s Headquarters.

The building was erected in 1855 by Henry Horner and served as his home and place of business, “Henry Horner & Co., Wholesale Grocers and Flour Dealers.” The building is one of only two structures in the area to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Since then, it has served only one other business, the Pentecost Brothers fish purveyors. During the 1987 renovation, construction workers discovered traces of a fresco on the third floor, suggesting that the area now serving as the International Board Room may have been a ballroom at one time.

Zonta International dedicated the building on 12 October 1987 and discharged the mortgage in 1996.