IF you were asked to name a local service club, then chances are, Rotary or Lions Clubs might come to mind. But there’s another group to be discovered.
The Zonta Club of Ballarat was founded in 1978 and is a member of Zonta International, a leading global organisation of professional women.
The club takes its name from the Sioux Indian word – Zonta – meaning honest and trustworthy.
Zonta’s aim was then – and is now – to empower women through service and advocacy in countries large and small, rich or poor.
The club knows women’s rights are human rights and all women deserve to reach their full potential.
Ballarat’s community of Zonta women forge friendships, build community partnerships and deliver their service and advocacy locally and across the world.
Some of that service supports cancer patients, plans White Ribbon Day events, gets important toiletries to women in refuges and gives birthing kits to mothers in developing countries.
Zonta’s women engage the community and love the arts, supporting Royal South Street and keeping a collection of works by Australian female artists at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
One of their most recent initiatives – amongst many others – has championed women in technology and acknowledged young leaders in the field.
Since 2007, ladies nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to Ballarat’s local community have also been thanked and celebrated on an Honour Roll – Ballarat’s Great Women.
The nominations are assessed by members of the local club and officially added to the Honour Roll at an event in late March.
Ballarat’s club also joined with Bendigo and Kyneton’s clubs to form the Zonta Club, Central Highlands in Maryborough.
There’s nearly 30,000 ‘Zontians’ – Zonta women – across 63 countries and this year, Zonta will celebrate its centenary, having grown from a casual Christmas party conversation between five women nearly 100 years ago.
The first major character behind Zonta in its infancy was Marian de Forest, a journalist and playwright from Buffalo, New York.
Personalities like this have been key to Zonta’s longevity, especially in Ballarat, where 21 different women with their own individual expertise and life experiences have nurtured the club as president.
One of those women is Donna Campbell, who has led the club three times and is the current president.
“It gives me the opportunity to work with and assist women and girls internationally, nationally and most importantly with the Ballarat community,” she said.
“We are able to focus on sustainable changes and as individuals we are able to develop ourselves while developing our society.”
Meetings are held on the fourth Thursday every month except December and January. Find out more about the club at zontaballarat.com.