Not-so-well-known facts about another centennial

By Susanne von Bassewitz, International President

What was achieved in June 1919 with the 19th Amendment passing the U.S. Congress was obviously a big success, but female suffrage remained a controversial cause until it was officially ratified in August 1920. 

Casey Cep, author of the article “Finish the Fight,” published in the 8th/15th July issue of the New Yorker, reminds the reader that, at this centennial, it is worth considering why women had to fight so hard and who, exactly, was fighting against them. 

Did you know that New York’s original voting laws included mention of “he or she” and “his or her ballot,” but that the female pronouns were struck in 1777?

Have you heard of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of six indigenous nations gathered in the region of the Great Lakes to form an egalitarian society, and that Haudenosaunee women helped select the chiefs and had a say in matters of war and peace? Which was witnessed firsthand by the 19th century suffragists?

And, were you aware that when suffrage was finally passed in the state of Tennessee, the last step to fully ratify the 19th Amendment, the final vote in the Tennessee House of Representatives was 46 ‘nays’ and 50 ‘ayes?’ 

Cep directs us to two books that seem to be a valuable read: The Women’s Suffrage Movement (Penguin) and Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote (Harvard).

Zonta Club of Bendigo recreates 1919 founders photo

The Zonta Club of Bendigo, Australia, braved the winter weather to recreate the original photo of Zonta’s founding members taken nearly 100 years ago in 1919.

Members enjoyed dressing up in their long, thick winter coats, furs and hats to celebrate their great organization and the milestone in the history of women’s rights.

More celebrations will continue throughout the year for the club.

Photo credit: Peter Little, husband of Zontian Dale Little

Looking back on June 1919: ‘Lift-off’ for Zonta

By Susanne von Bassewitz, International President

June 1919 was a milestone month for women’s history in the United States. After decades of petitions, silent vigils, hunger strikes and protests, in June 1919, the U.S. Senate passed the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing all American women the right to vote. The amendment would not be fully ratified until 18 August 1920; however, its passage was a victory for women suffragists who had fought tirelessly to be given an equal voice and to be fully recognized as American citizens.

The weeks immediately preceding and following the passing of the 19th Amendment encouraged tens of thousands of women to use their newfound voices. The women who would become the first Zontians had gathered only a few months ago to conceive of a different kind of women’s organization. Soon they would already count some hundred (!) pioneer women who would, on 8 November 1919, form Zonta. In hindsight, the creation of Zonta was an even more remarkable achievement since this organizational effort was made in times of snail mail and a just developing telephone infrastructure.  

I think it’s not exaggerated to say that the successful fight for women’s right to vote was the “lift-off” for Zonta. The drive and admirable energy that our founding sisters felt encourages us to take more bold steps on the road for gender equity.

In the news: Zonta clubs of Buffalo and Grand Island present ‘Little Women’ to celebrate Zonta’s centennial

The Zonta clubs of Buffalo and Grand Island are joining with the Kavinoky Theatre to present a dramatic reading of the play Little Women, adapted by Marian De Forest from the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott.

The production celebrates Zonta’s centennial in a special way. The play Little Women was written by Zonta’s founder, Marian De Forest, of Buffalo, New York.


Zonta Club of Sofia kicks off celebration of Zonta’s 100th anniversary

The Zonta Club of Sofia launched the celebration of Zonta International’s 100th jubilee anniversary with a video clip, which was directed and created by Magdalena Ralcheva, the club’s president, with the participation of club members. Yanitsa Skenderova made and presented a short presentation about Amelia Earhart.

The clip’s premiere took place at an event organized by the Zonta Club of Sofia, which was concentrated around Amelia Earhart as a woman who is a bright example of qualities such as dedication, spirit, faith and the fight of strong women around the world.

The Zonta Club of Sofia again participated in the Zonta says NO to Violence Against Women campaign, but this year, in honor of Zonta International’s 100th anniversary, club members created the Art against Violence project, which supported the realization of the mono-spectacle The Angel’s Embrace, initiated and directed by Magdalena. The premiere took place on 25 November 2018, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Children in Studio 5 at the National Palace of Culture. The event was successful and very emotional, the crowded hall has long applauded the performance of the talented actress Tezjan Ferad-Gianni.

Part of the revenues from the performances organized by the Zonta Club of Sofia is donated to organizations that help women and children victims of domestic violence. Among the organizations supported so far by the club are the Animus Association Foundation in Sofia and the Demetra Association in Burgas.

The mono spectacle is played every month in Sofia on the stage of Studio 5 in the National Palace of Culture and Zonta Club Sofia organized its performance in Burgas, which passed successfully in the crowded hall of the Puppet Theater.

The project is long-term and aims to travel across the country – popularizing the Zonta community and its 100th anniversary, the Zonta Club of Sofia, the cause of “No violence against women and children” and opposed to aggression and impunity in the society.

Zonta Club of Coos Bay celebrates 100 years of empowering women with ‘Zonta’s Greatest Show’

The Zonta Club of Coos Bay in District 8 celebrated Zonta’s 100th anniversary with an event titled,  “Zonta’s Greatest Show.”

During the event, the club recognized former Oregon state senator Joanne Verger as their 2019 celebrity.

Verger inspired the room as she was honored, having spent 50 years in public service both in Coos County and in Salem.

Click here to read more.

Zonta clubs of Kaohsiung and Kaohsiung Yuhsiuan celebrate centennial anniversary and recognize awardees


The Zonta clubs of Kaohsiung and Kaohsiung Yuhsiuan, District 31, had an evening full of celebrating Zonta’s centennial anniversary and presenting awards to 12 students in high school, vocational school and college.

The awards focused on the fields of languages, science, math, technological skills, and sports, in addition to the Young Women in Public Affairs Award.

Participants in the big event included two students from Lesotho, ten American students learning Chinese in Kaohsiung, 12 award winners and their parents, six Z club students, eight Golden Z club students and Zontians.