Zonta International

Zonta International — a UNICEF USA partner for over 50 years — has more than 29,000 members in 62 countries working together to improve the lives of women and girls.

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Partner since 1972

Founded in 1919, Zonta International is a global organization of professionals dedicated to empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. There are over 29,000 members working in 62 countries to improve the lives of women and girls.                                 

Zonta International and UNICEF USA have been in close partnership since 1972, helping UNICEF advance the status of women and children globally through education, health and protection services.

Empowering girls on climate change

In 2022, Zonta began supporting Engaging Girls on Climate Change in Madagascar. The program aims to enable children — particularly girls — to learn in a safe and inclusive environment, and to empower them to take action in building climate-resilient communities. Zonta’s support will help ensure girls and a generation of children and adolescents receive environmental education in Madagascar through child-friendly schools.

While helping improve the quality of education through environmental conservation and education initiatives, this partnership project also aims to help Madagascar meet sustainable development goals in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Program targets for 2022-2024 include training at least 1,000 students (including about 540 girls) and 1,500 teachers in water conservation, environmental education and menstrual health and hygiene (MHH).

At least 750 teachers at 700 primary schools will receive training on climate and environment, sanitation and hygiene practices (including MHH), clean school environment (including tree and flower planting), pre-positioning supplies, and the development of disaster risk plans to enable learning to continue during natural disasters.

Ending child marriage and protecting futures in 12 high-risk countries

Some 650 million women who are alive today were married before their 18th birthday, and an estimated 280 million more girls are at risk of becoming child brides. If current trends continue, the number of girls and women married as children will reach nearly 1 billion by 2030. 

The COVID-19 pandemic increased the risks of child marriage for vulnerable girls by interrupting their schooling; creating or exacerbating food and economic insecurity for families; disrupting social programs and support services; increasing adolescent pregnancy; and causing deaths of parents and caregivers.

Zonta, committed to supporting programming measures aimed at reducing the number of child brides, supports the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Program to End Child Marriage in 12 countries: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.

Through the joint UNFPA-UNICEF initiative, Zonta is helping UNICEF:

  • enhance knowledge, skills, and attitudes among marginalized adolescent girls on matters such as their rights, relationships, sexual and reproductive health, and financial literacy, including in humanitarian contexts
  • increase knowledge and awareness among adolescent boys, families, traditional and religious leaders, community groups, and other influencers to ensure more gender-equitable attitudes and support for girls’ rights
  • increase capacity of education, health, child protection, and gender-based violence (GBV) systems to deliver coordinated, quality programs and services that meet the needs of adolescent girls and their families, including in humanitarian contexts
  • increase the capacities of national and sub-national social protection, poverty reduction, and economic empowerment programs and services to respond to the needs of the poorest adolescent girls and their families, including in humanitarian contexts
  • enhance government capacities to coordinate and implement action plans and systems needed to prevent child marriage
  • increase the capacities of governments and non-government organizations to generate, disseminate and use quality and timely evidence to inform policy and program design, track progress, and document lessons

Supporting adolescent girls' health and protection in Peru

Zonta is also a longtime supporter of UNICEF's work in Peru, specifically health and protection programs and other efforts focused on upholding the rights of indigenous and rural adolescents.

Project efforts are being scaled in four key regions in the country to help strengthen health systems, with an emphasis on boosting health care workers’ ability to provide much needed mental health care to adolescents.

Pilot efforts are underway to equip adolescents, especially girls, with important sexual and reproductive health information. Counseling is available for young parents on how to avoid a second pregnancy at a young age. The UNICEF team is also collaborating with community institutions, including schools, to prevent violence against young people.

With Zonta's continued support, UNICEF Peru continues to work with partners to strengthen capacities within Peru's protection and education sectors to promote health and prevent violence in schools. Together, Zonta International and UNICEF USA are positively impacting tens of thousands of women and girls, building brighter, safer and healthier futures.

Learn more about how UNICEF and civil society groups work together to create better futures for children.

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TOP PHOTO: Giridih district has one of the highest rates of child marriage in India where 6 out of 10 girls are married before age 18. In Madanpur Jamua block of Giridih, adoloscent girls attend karate classes as part of a UNICEF-supported empowerment and protection program to make villages in the district ‘child marriage free’. © UNICEF/UN061999/Vishwanathan