senators’ statements — Zonta International

June 6, 2019


Honourable senators, I rise today to mark the hundredth anniversary of Zonta clubs.

Zonta International is a global volunteer organization empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy for the recognition of women’s rights as human rights, and a world where every woman is able to achieve her full potential without fear of gender-based violence. Zonta International has consultative status with the UN on issues pertaining to women and girls.

Founded by women in Buffalo, New York, in November 1919, Toronto became the first international club in 1929. Today there are approximately 1,200 clubs in 63 countries with over 29,000 members, including 20 clubs in Canada from B.C. to Halifax. Canadian clubs engage in service and advocacy around violence, health and women’s education.

Here are a few examples. Zonta clubs raise funds for women’s employment training, support for women in precarious housing, immigrant and refugee women’s organizations, and assembling birthing kits and shipping them to the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Toronto, Zonta partners with the White Ribbon campaign to raise awareness of violence against women, and just last week were found fitting men on Bay Street into high-heeled shoes for the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes annual event.

Zonta funds dozens of scholarships for women worldwide, but today I wish to focus on the Amelia Earhart Fellowship for women pursuing doctoral studies in aerospace science and engineering. The Amelia Earhart Fellowship was established in 1938 in honour of the famed pilot and Zontian, Amelia Earhart. Let’s stop and think about how visionary that was back in 1938.

I am pleased to report that this year, Canadian Katherine Kokmanian from Montreal won for her work on supersonic flows which, as the name suggests, travel faster than the speed of sound.

In 2018, local Ottawa woman Emily Gleeson won the award for her work on navigation and control techniques needed to explore Mars. Ms. Gleeson’s “wings” were awarded to her by the President of the Toronto Zonta Club, a former Amelia Earhart winner herself, my neighbour and good friend, Holly Anderson.

Honourable senators, please join me in congratulating these award winners, the Zonta organization and its two representatives in the gallery as it celebrates its centennial year.

Thank you.