Allison Summers (left), Zonta International executive director, and Megan Radavich, Zonta International assistant executive director, programs & advocacy, with Zonta International’s Summit Award on September 30. (Courtesy of ASAE.)

Zonta International receives national award for efforts to end child marriage

On 30 September, Zonta International was one of six associations to receive the 2021 Power of A Summit Award, ASAE’s highest honor for the association community, at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

Zonta International was recognized for its efforts to end child marriage—any formal or informal union where one or both of the parties are under 18 years old. Child, early and forced marriage happens across countries, cultures and religions and is a violation of human rights. Each year, 12 million girls are married before they turn 18.

“The members of Zonta International have always envisioned a world where women’s rights are recognized as human rights and every girl has the opportunity to go to school, realize her full potential and decide if, when and who to marry,” said Zonta International Executive Director Allison Summers. “This award is a testament to the value of their collective efforts and the critical nature of this cause. We thank ASAE for recognizing that responsible laws that set the minimum age of marriage at 18 not only help women and girls but all of society.”

Partnering with UNFPA and UNICEF USA, Zonta has sponsored the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage since 2018. Zonta, the Global Programme’s first private-sector donor, has contributed $3.5 million so far.

Now in Phase II, the Global Programme has already achieved impressive results: 11 out of 12 target countries have child marriage action plans, and nearly 8 million girls have received a vital life-skills education. Phase II aims to elevate the voice and agency of adolescent girls, increase resources and opportunities for adolescent girls and their families, and enhance legal and political action to prevent child marriage and to support married, divorced or widowed adolescent girls.

Zonta International also partnered with UNICEF USA for a PSA campaign to make 18 the minimum age to marry in the United States. When the campaign began, only two states had banned marriage before the age of 18. Currently, six states have laws banning child marriage with strong bills pending in 12 states.

More than 1,100 clubs in 63 countries make up Zonta International, and clubs across the Zonta world have held events to create awareness of early and forced marriage and taken action to end the practice locally, nationally and globally. Zonta also encouraged members to center their Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaigns around child marriage in 2018 and 2019.

The Summit Award is part of ASAE’s Power of A campaign, which highlights the association community’s valuable contributions to society at the local, national and global levels. More than 118 entries in five award categories were submitted. ASAE is a membership organization of more than 48,000 association executives and industry partners representing 7,400 organizations. 

22 OCTOBER 2021