March 10 - 16, 2019: Issue 396


Zonta Club Of Northern Beaches

2019 Pittwater Women of the Year - photo by Michael Mannington, Community Photography - visit 2019 Pittwater Women of the Year

Chartered in 1975 the Zonta Club of our Northern Beaches brings together the intelligence, energy and acumen of some of our great women. With members who are professionals in academia, nursing, accounting, the law, small business, book editing, information technology, music, optometry, economics, administration, medicine, art, fitness and real estate, the range of knowledge and experience represents the infrastructure of community itself. Pittwater ladies Dorothea Mackellar and her best friend and frequent visitor Ruth Bedford were among those to establish a Zonta Club in Sydney during the 1920's and although this had to be re-established a few decades later, women supporting women has long been part of the Australian ethos.

On Australia Day 2012 the ZCNB International Women’s Day Breakfast was awarded a ‘High Commendation’ award for the Pittwater Council Community Event of the Year. Also in 2012 the annual Zonta NB breakfast was the place where it was announced Cr. Patricia Giles was the Pittwater Woman of the Year, recognising decades of service to community. Cr. Giles expressed feeling overwhelmed in joining the ranks of women who have previously received this award but with service to others forming an integral part of all Zonta Club activities, Patricia represents a great example.

Pittwater Women of the Year: Caroline Kelly (2013), Patricia Giles OAM (2012), Christine Hopton (2014), Superintendant Doreen Cruickshank (2008), Tamara Sloper-Harding (2011).

The former Mayor is among a growing list of women whose efforts for the community have been recognised - among them are Arts advocate Lorrie Morgan, Mona Vale Hospital Auxiliary champion Eileen Gordon, Surf Life Saving's Christine Hopton OAM, palliative care volunteer Jo-Ann Steeves and Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch President Deborah Carter.

This year the club itself has been recognised, MP for Pittwater Rob Stokes announcing on March 6th:

Volunteer members of the Zonta Club of Northern Beaches were today acknowledged as the first ever joint-recipients of the Pittwater Woman of the Year award.  

The annual award, which recognises the outstanding achievements and contributions of local women, was accepted on the group’s behalf by Club President Bernardine Guy.

“This is one of the most energetic, passionate and effective volunteer groups in our community,” Rob Stokes said today.

“With the loyal assistance of countless supporters throughout our community – the group has been able to directly assist women in our local area, as well as in remote corners of the world.

“There’s no time wasting or hidden agendas with this group – they simply raise funds, raise awareness and provide support.

“The work they do to fund, prepare and dispatch birthing kits to women in developing countries is not only inspiring – it’s also a powerful way of connecting communities at opposite sides of the world.

“This award is a great way to acknowledge their inspirational efforts and the positive messages they spread throughout our community,” Rob Stokes said. 

Zonta was first formed in 1919 in Buffalo, New York, by journalist and playwright Marian de Forest who envisioned a network of women working to support each other in establishing themselves in their chosen professional careers in what was a male dominated workforce. In the States women were only just getting to vote and graduate from Colleges, their status and rights were still being determined by men. 

Then and now ‘Zonta Clubs still select, fund and participate in community projects fundamental to promoting women's economic self-sufficiency, political equality, access to education and health care and the elimination of violence against women.’

Among its initiatives is The Amelia Earhart Fellowships Program, launched in 1938,  which commemorates groundbreaking aviator and Zontian Amelia Earhart. 

From the Zonta Organisation website: ‘Ellen Parks, then serving as Zonta International President, remembered, "At that time few women considered a career in aerospace engineering, yet not one voice of doubt was raised as to the success of such a scholarship." 

The Grant is an International one and open to all women. ..’Past Felllows have become astronauts, aerospace engineers, astronomers, professors, geologists, business owners, heads of companies, even Secretary of the US Air Force.’

The Pittwater Women of the Year announcement is timely as November 8th, 2019 marks Zonta’s centennial anniversary. Visit:

To celebrate this year's recognition, a reprise of a 2012 Profile of the Week:

How many Zonta clubs are there worldwide ?

Zonta exists to advance the status of women worldwide. "Zonta" is derived from a Lakhota word (Teton Dakota), a language of the Native-American Sioux peoples, meaning honest and trustworthy. It was adopted in 1919 to symbolise the combined qualities of honesty and trust, inspiration and ability to work together for service and world understanding. There are 30,000 members in 1200 Zonta clubs in 63 countries

In May 2012 the WHO (World Health Organisation) has estimated that approximate 1000 women die each day from childbirth (HERE ). Zonta Birthing Kits -what is in these and how do they work?

Our main international hands on project is the birthing kits that are assembled in Australia and shipped to women in the developing countries under an education program with hospital support. Our club has a very strong record in making Zonta birthing kits. Each year, up to 8000 birthing kits are assembled with a great deal of community involvement and member fellowship.

A Birthing Kit works by providing the 7 cleans for a clean birth: Clean birth site - preventing delivery onto the floor, Clean hands - to prevent the birth attendant transmitting germs to mother and baby, Clean ties - to prevent bleeding from the umbilical cord for mother and baby, Clean razor - to reduce infection caused by other implements, Clean gauze - to wipe away birth canal secretions from the eyes, which decreases future eye infections, Clean umbilical cord - washing and drying the stumps prevents infection, Clean perineum. 

They contain a 1m x 1m plastic sheet for the mother to lie on, a piece of soap, 2 gloves, 3 gauze squares, 3 cord ties or 2 clamps and  a sterile scalpel blade. All of this is contained in a small press seal plastic bag.

Together with local high schools, we assemble birthing kits to be used in developing countries.

How do you support women in the local community?

Advancing the status of women in our local community (Northern Beaches) involves projects that assist women with further study (study grants and student support grants), health (breastcare cushions) and supporting women and children who have suffered domestic violence (supporting the refuge). 

This is relative in terms of Zonta’s working for the health status of women. We are great supporters of the Zonta breast care cushion project and also the birthing kits, which are both District 24 endorsed Service Projects. The breast care cushions – silk cushions which are a great comfort to women who have undergone breast surgery -- are made by members and also by women in the local community, and are given free of charge to hospitals in the area, such as Mona Vale Hospital, North Shore Private, Manly Hospital and the San (Sydney Adventist Hospital). Since 2005, our club has made and distributed approximately 1100 cushions.

Encouraging Education

In advancing the educational status of women, our club administers and finances a number of projects that support women in the local community.  We award study grants worth several thousands of dollars, and pay for textbooks and computer equipment. Study grants enable local women to access tertiary education and improve not only their own lives but those of their children. We also make student support grants to young women in Years 11 and 12 at local schools who are having difficulties at home.

Supporting victims of domestic violence

Our club has formed a strong and close relationship with the Northern Beaches Women’s Resource Centre (often called the ‘Women’s Refuge’) and through this, we help women and their children who have been affected by domestic violence. We improve their economic status by donating new household items and paying for the children’s swimming lessons, after-school care, support tuition and ‘back to school’ kits.

Kitchen starter kits for families leaving the refuge

Breast Care Cushions

Zonta Breast Care Cushions are a great comfort to women who have undergone breast surgery. The cushions are made by members and women in the local community, and are given free of charge to local hospitals. Since 2005, our club provided approximately 1300 cushions.

What fundraising assists the work of Zonta here on the Northern Beaches?

To support our projects, our club needs to raise money. This money is in the form of grants and fundraising. Dee Why RSL have been very generous in providing money that we have used to support our study grant and student support recipients. Fundraising is through our annual Trivia night at the Mona Vale Memorial Hall, the annual IWD breakfast, Australia Day Breakfasts (in conjunction with other service clubs) and other fun activities. 

You have a dinner every 4th Monday. What happens at these?

We have a monthly meeting at the Dee Why Master Builders Club, on the 4th Monday of each month. We generally have a guest speaker except for some meetings such as the AGM. The meeting has a formal agenda and minutes, each committee reports on their activities, members make decisions such as how funds will be spent and we discuss projects and  progress. 

What is the Club’s ‘motto’ or a phrase they aim to work by?

The club's motto is Advancing the Status of Women - this is our mission statement.

How do people become Members or help?

We are always looking for the next generation of community-minded, professional women to continue the service and advocacy work of Zonta in our area and beyond. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have an interest in becoming a Zonta member or just want to help support our work.

You don’t need to be a member of a Zonta club to contribute to Zonta’s efforts to improve the lives of women and girls. Service projects always need money – your donation to Zonta’s work in general or to a specified local or internal project is welcomed.


Zonta NB supported by Avalon Quilters contribution

Zonta International History Timeline

1919 - Confederation of Zonta Clubs founded in Buffalo, New York, USA. Mary Jenkins is elected first president.
1920 - Zonta colors and emblem are adopted and the first issue of The Zontian is published.
1923 - The first international project is funded to care for 115,000 orphan children and women in Smyrna, Turkey.
1927 - The first club outside the US is formed in Toronto, Canada.
1930 - "Zonta International" name is adopted as the first European club is established in Vienna, Austria.
1938 - The Amelia Earhart Fellowship is established in honor of the Zontian after her disappearance in 1937.
1948 - The first Z and Golden Z clubs are founded in Burbank, California, USA.
1963 - Zonta International is granted roster-level status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. 
1968 -  Zonta International elects Helvi Sipilä as the first International President outside of the US. Contributions reach 1 million USD.
1970 - Zonta International elects Angie Brooks-Rudolph as its first International Honorary Member.
1975 - Zonta International President Eleanor Jammal and UN Committee Chairman Harriette Yeckel serve as Zonta's official delegates to the UN International Women's Year Conference in Mexico City, Mexico and Helvi Sipilä serves as secretary-general.
1983 - Zonta is granted consultative status with the Council of Europe
1984 - Zonta International Foundation is established
1986 - Zonta International becomes the first NGO to support UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) and continues to support. 
1987 - Zonta International dedicates their first world headquarters building in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
1990 - The Young Women in Public Affairs Award is established.
1998 - Zonta welcomes its 1,000th club, Lomo, Togo. Zonta International Strategies to End Violence Against Women project (ZISVAW) is adopted as an on-going program. The Jane M. Klausman Women In Business Scholarship is established. 
2012 - Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women annual campaign launches
2014 - "Empowering Women Through Service and Advocacy" slogan adopted

Educational programs and awards

Zonta International seeks to provide opportunities for women through a number of educational programs and awards.

Amelia Earhart Fellowship

Established in 1938 in honor of famed pilot and Zontian Amelia Earhart, the Amelia Earhart Fellowship is awarded annually to women pursuing Ph.D./doctoral degrees in aerospace-related sciences or aerospace-related engineering. The Fellowship of US$10,000, awarded to 35 Fellows around the globe each year, may be used at any university or college offering accredited post-graduate courses and degrees in these fields.

Fellowship recipients include:

Noël Bakhtian

Sallie Baliunas

Tanya Harrison

Nikhil Koratkar

Diane Lemaire: Diane Adrienne Lemaire (2 February 1923 – 27 October 2012) was an Australian aeronautical engineer. She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Melbourne with a degree in engineering. Lemaire was awarded the Amelia Earhart Fellowship from Zonta International in 1962.

Diane attended St Catherine's School in Toorak, Australia. She attended the University of Melbourne and was a resident at Janet Clarke Hall. In 1944, she was the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Melbourne. She later attended Cornell University and graduated with a Master of Science. Her thesis title was On the Question of the Existence of a Homogeneous Solution to the Equation for the Flow over the Shrough of a Ducted Propeller.

Lemaire worked as a Technical Officer at the CSIR Division of Aeronautics (later the Aeronautical Research Laboratories). After World War II, she worked at the National Physical Laboratory in England, them, following her Masters at Cornell, returned to the Aeronautical Research Laboratories, where she worked until her retirement in 1986. Following her retirement, Lemaire concentrated on breeding Lhasa Apso dogs.

She died on 27 October 2012, aged 89. In her will, dated 18 August 2010, Lemaire left a bequest of one fifth of her residuary estate to the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Melbourne, to support research in the field of fluid dynamics. The Melbourne School of Engineering established the Diane Lemaire Scholarship for female PhD students who have completed the equivalent of at least six months candidature and is awarded on the basis of academic merit, the quality of their research, the strength of a personal statement and their resume, including any publications.

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

The Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship program helps women to pursue undergraduate and master's degrees in business management and to overcome gender barriers from the classroom to the boardroom. Since the program's inception, Zonta has awarded 357 scholarships to women from 47 countries.

Young Women in Public Affairs Award Program

Established in 1990 by Past International President Leneen Forde, the Young Women in Public Affairs Award honors young women aged from 16 to 19 who demonstrate a commitment to leadership in public policy, government and volunteer organizations. The program operates at the Zonta club, district/region and international levels. Zonta clubs provide awards for club recipients, and district/region and international awards are funded by the Zonta International Foundation. District recipients receive US$1,000, and ten international recipients are selected from the district/region recipients to receive awards of US$4,000 each.

Z and Golden Z Clubs

Established in 1948, the Z Club and Golden Z Club program is one of Zonta International's longest-running programs. Z clubs and Golden Z clubs help high-school, college and university students develop leadership skills, promote career exploration and encourage members to participate in community, school and international service projects.