International Service Program

Since Zonta International was founded in 1919, Zontians have been passionate about empowering women in developing countries through international service. In the more than 90 years since its first international service project was funded, Zonta International has contributed nearly US$15.5 million to projects benefiting women in 37 countries. Through funding from   the Zonta International Foundation, the Zonta International Service Program has provided training, education, health, sanitation, agricultural and micro-credit assistance to women, primarily through projects implemented by the agencies of the United Nations and other recognized non-governmental organizations.

During the 2016-2018 Biennium, two projects are being supported by the International Service Fund:

    Towards Elimination of Obstetric Fistula and Reduction of Maternal and Newborn Mortality in Liberia
    Let Us Learn Madagascar: An Integrated Program for Adolescent Girls

  Eliminating obstetric fistula in Liberia

Since 2008, Zonta International has provided US$1.95 million to UNFPA to support the Liberia Fistula Project. More than 1,000 women and adolescent girls with various types of fistulae have received surgical treatment and nearly 300 survivors have been successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated into their communities; however, there are 600-1,000 new cases of obstetric fistula in Liberia every year and a backlog of more than 5,000 cases awaiting treatment and care. Zonta International has committed an additional US$600,000 to the Liberia Fistula Project from 2014 to 2016.

What is obstetric fistula?

Obstetric fistula is a childbirth injury usually caused by prolonged, obstructed labor without timely medical intervention, usually  a caesarean section. During unassisted, prolonged labor, the sustained pressure of the babyís head on the motherís pelvic bone damages her soft tissues and pelvic nerves, creating a hole Ė or fistula Ė between the vagina and bladder and/or rectum, resulting in constant leaking of urine and/or feces through the vagina. In most cases, the baby is stillborn; and, in some cases, the mother is left paralyzed.

In addition to the physical consequences, fistula can also have social and psychological effects on women. Often there is stigma associated with this condition, and women suffering from fistula are abandoned by their families and marginalized by
their communities.

How Zonta helps

With properly trained surgeons, appropriately equipped facilities and the necessary aftercare, the treatment of uncomplicated   obstetric fistula has a 90 percent success rate. The average cost of a fistula surgery and post-operative care is approximately US$400, while the cost of social rehabilitation for a fistula survivor (provision of skills training and psychosocial    support) is on average US$1,300.

Zonta Internationalís contribution of US$600,000 will:

Improve the health and socio-economic status of more than 400 women and girls through quality surgical and non-surgical treatment for obstetric fistula.
Identify and empower 100 inoperable fistula survivors by 2016.
Reduce the incidence of obstetric fistula by 25 percent through increased awareness and knowledge of obstetric fistula in targeted communities


About 90 percent of Madagascarís population lives on less than US$2 per day, leaving children particularly vulnerable. Aside from endemic poverty, Madagascar is prone to natural disasters, which further impede economic growth of the agricultural economy and make it even more difficult to escape poverty and prioritize education for children.

More than a quarter of Madagascarís children are excluded from formal education, and one out of three girls will become pregnant before the age of 18. Junior secondary school enrollment fees are prohibitively expensive for families, forcing parents to select one child to continue their education, often leaving girls behind.

Zonta International has committed US$1,000,000 to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to create opportunities for vulnerable and excluded girls to realize their rights to an education in a secure and protective environment. Partnering with the Ministry of National Education and others, Let Us Learn Madagascar will promote a common vision of investing in junior secondary education for girls as an entry point for equity.

How Zonta helps

The project is focused on reaching out-of-school children, expanding girlsí education and improving quality outcomes for learners.

Zonta Internationalís contribution of US$1 million will help:

Provide training to 1,042 post-primary teachers.
Ensure that families and communities are aware of child protection laws, services and harmful practices against children and that they protect adolescent girls from sexual violence, early marriage and exploitation, all factors that reduce girlsí continuing their education.
Target girls in 5th grade (last year of primary school) to receive peer support from girls in 7th grade (second year of junior secondary school) to facilitate their transition from primary to junior secondary school.
Offer Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) to vulnerable girls from 1,000 low-income families in their final year of primary school with conditions that include enrollment, passing grades and minimum absenteeism from school.
Construct four junior secondary school classrooms with water points and latrines to ensure healthy habits are taught, practiced and integrated into daily school routines and that appropriate facilities are available to students to ensure the physical and psychosocial health needed to stay in school. The construction of the classrooms will include the provision of school furniture, teaching and instructional materials and a sports field.
Focus on violence prevention efforts at the individual, school, family and community levels to transform gender norms and attitudes that accept gender-based violence.
Facilitate access to quality medical and psychosocial support for victims of violence within a reasonable timeframe through a coordinated community response.
Disseminate messages on child marriage, early pregnancy and gender-based violence through local radio stations, house visits, focus groups, national communication campaigns and international days, targeting all members of the community including boys and men, in order to change behaviors, reduce violence against girls and permit young mothers to return to school.

To learn more, follow this link to the Zonta International web site.


The education programs below are made possible through donations made to the Zonta International Foundation.

Amelia Earhart Fellowship

The Amelia Earhart Fellowship expands opportunities for women pursuing advanced studies in the typically male-dominated fields of aerospace-related sciences and aerospace-related engineering.

Learn more

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

The Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship supports women pursuing undergraduate and masterís degrees in business management.

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Young Women in Public Affairs Award

The Young Women in Public Affairs (YWPA) Award recognizes young women, ages 16-19, who demonstrate superior leadership skills and a commitment to public service and civic causes, and encourages them to continue their participation in public and political life.

Learn more

Mission Statement
Zonta International is a leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy