Zonta celebrate 20th birthday

Local  Zontians working to advance the status of women in all circumstances throughout the world

Local Zontians working to advance the status of women in all circumstances throughout the world

Female genital mutilation, sex trafficking, child and early marriage, women’s employment, human rights, the gender pay gap. After nearly 100 years of empowering women and working against discrimination, although improvements have happened, Zonta International is still fighting these battles…

Chartered on October 25, 1997, the Blackall Range Club was initiated by Maria Gardner from the sponsoring Zonta Club of Fraser Coast. Diane Leggo, Membership Chair of the District Board, contacted potential members and organised the fledgling group.

International President, Brisbane’s Mary Magee, welcomed the incoming board and members inducted by Brisbane Zontian and International Board member, Jane O’Brien, who also presented the charter and gavel.

In its 20 years of existence the club had made considerable contributions to the local community. Coordinator, charter member and past president, Ann Koenig said, “Every woman who has been a member of our club has contributed to its success.

“One of our first initiatives was the production of a book of women’s stories Sweet Sisters edited by Jill Morris and Eliza Burfein, with cover design by Liz Heber; and current member Jenny Tatton organises the Business Directory of the Mapleton and Flaxton areas.

“We provide refuge packs for women who find it necessary to go to a women’s refuge with nothing; and we pack birthing kits for women in developing countries to protect mother and baby from dying through neo-natal tetanus, who have no other means for giving birth,” said Ann.

One event designed to encourage women’s creativity provided some unexpected results.“From 1999 to 2010 as a fundraising event we held an annual Women in Art exhibition with prizes in various categories.

“One of our regular exhibitors painted horses. Over the years the horses got more and more like horses, and finally she not only won a prize but also sold a painting. We thought if we did nothing else in all those years, empowering this woman was perhaps the most satisfying.”

There are a range of international awards, including an annual scholarship of $1500 to a woman who is at USC. Zonta have been providing this for ten-plus years, and have encouraged and assisted some extraordinary women.

At a club level, Zonta Club of Blackall Range supports a range of local services including Women’s Shelters, Mapleton Library preparing for Prep Program and supplying Breast Care Cushions to Nambour Hospital.

“We also recognise and honour an outstanding woman from our local community (who is not a Zontian) in our annual Women of Achievement, which is awarded on International Women’s Day, at our Dusk on the Deck event,” added Ann.

“As a club we have supported Australian Dr Catherine Hamlin’s Fistula Clinic in Ethiopia since our foundation, and recently we have been holding an annual morning tea as our major fundraiser specifically to the Hamlin Fistula Clinic. We also added the Zonta International Liberian Fistula program to our list.”

A side benefit to Zonta members is support for each other through friendships that start on the common base of community service.

In short, membership of Zonta is a privilege and the members of the Zonta Club of Blackall Range have consistently served the women in our region with distinction.

To celebrate, all past members are invited to an anniversary dinner on October 28 at the Orangery, Maleny, contact: membership@zontablackallrange.org.au