Zonta International statement on International Youth Day 2021

International Youth Day is commemorated each year to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and to celebrate the potential of youth as partners in today's global society.

"Reflecting back on this last year, look at what young people have experienced together: learning remotely, completing their education outside of classrooms and entering their next phase of life in a global shutdown," said Zonta International President Sharon Langenbeck. "Yet, despite these challenges, they have persevered. We admire and applaud their efforts."

Each of Zonta International's projects, programs and advocacy actions are meant to change the world for future generations so that they can flourish with opportunities and fully realize their rights.

  • In Peru, we are working with UNICEF USA to guarantee the rights of indigenous and rural adolescent girls and responding to their needs by preventing pregnancy, addressing mental health concerns and providing a protective environment from violence.
  • We are partnering with UNFPA to strengthen services for women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste.
  • Let Us Learn Madagascar is creating opportunities for vulnerable and excluded children to realize their right to an education in a secure and protective environment.
  • Through our international service projects, we are shedding light on some of the most pressing issues facing young people today, while learning from and engaging young people as agents of change themselves. The UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage brings awareness to the issue of early and forced marriage and works to protect the rights of millions of vulnerable girls in 12 countries in Africa and Asia.

We also believe that young people are the key to achieving progress and support them in the following ways:

  • Sponsored by a Zonta club, there are hundreds of Golden Z clubs on college and university campuses around the world. Likewise, Z clubs are formed on secondary campuses or in communities. Z and Golden Z club students plan, organize and participate in unique activities where they get hands-on experience in improving the lives of others. Read about how some of our student clubs are making an impact in their communities and globally.
  • The Young Women in Public Affairs (YWPA) Award recognizes young women, 16- to 19-year-olds,  for their commitment to volunteerism and dedication to empowering women and girls through service and advocacy. Our YWPA Awardees have gone on to become a director for the U.S. State Department, senior assistant attorney general, founders of successful nonprofits, assistant public defender, immigration lawyer, medical doctors and more. This year's recipients are addressing racial and gender inequality, gender-based violence, climate change and sustainability, bullying, gun violence, disability rights and more. Read more about them.

Zonta International encourages all of our clubs to sponsor Z and Golden Z clubs and provide students with the resources, information and guidance they need to improve the world around them. We also hope each club is participating in the YWPA Award by collecting applications and honoring their own recipients.

To join the United Nations' International Youth Day celebration, you can register for the #YouthLead Innovation Festival, a celebration of innovative youth-led solutions for the achievement of the SDGs and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It will take place on 12-13 August and will "give the opportunity for partners to take part in the global collective effort to empower the world's largest generation through innovation."

12 AUGUST 2021