Our Programs

Young Women in Public Affairs Award

Award description

Though about 40 percent of the world’s workforce is women, according to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, only 24.5 percent of all national parliamentarians were female as of 1 September 2019. Because Zonta International believes that young women are the key to women’s advancement in the field of public service, it offers the Young Women in Public Affairs (YWPA) Award, which recognizes young women, ages 16-19, for demonstrating leadership skills and commitment to public service and civic causes, and encourages them to continue their participation in public and political life.

Established in 1990 by Past International President Leneen Forde, Zonta has given 930 awards, totaling US$1,012,750, to 788 young women from 58 countries.

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$1,500, and 10 international recipients are selected from the district/region recipients to receive awards of US$5,000 each.


Women, aged 16-19 on 1 April each year, studying at a secondary school, college or university in a Zonta district/region, or who are studying elsewhere but are citizens of a Zonta country, who demonstrate evidence of the following, are eligible to apply. 

  • Active commitment to volunteerism.
  • Experience in local government, student government, or workplace leadership (paid or unpaid).
  • Volunteer leadership achievements.
  • Knowledge of Zonta International and its programs.
  • Support in Zonta International's mission of empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.

Applicants from geographic areas within a Zonta district/region where no clubs are located may apply via a Zonta e-club or directly to the district to be eligible for the district/region and international awards. Z and Golden Z club members are also eligible to apply. Classified members (club members and individuals with direct membership with Zonta International) and employees of Zonta International and Zonta International Foundation, and their family members (ancestors, descendants, adoptees, siblings, nieces or cousins, and those of their spouse or co-habiting partner), are not eligible to apply for the Awards. Previous International Young Women in Public Affairs Award recipients are not eligible to apply.

Application Process

The application process must start with a Zonta club. All application materials must be received at a Zonta club by the deadline printed on the application. If you downloaded the application from the Zonta International website, you must contact a Zonta club for deadline information. Please locate the Zonta club nearest you using the Club Locator or email your name and contact information to Zonta International Headquarters at programs@zonta.org.

Zonta clubs each select one application to send to the Zonta district/region. A district/region evaluating committee reviews the applications and selects one applicant per district/region to submit to Zonta International Headquarters. The Zonta International YWPA Committee recommends 10 international recipients from the district/region applications to the Zonta International Board. After approval by the Zonta International Board, the Zonta International Foundation provides awards and certificates to the district/region and international recipients. 


The application period for the 2020 Young Women in Public Affairs Award has closed. The 2020 recipients will be announced by 1 July 2020.


YWPA Awards are made possible by generous contributions to the Zonta International Foundation Young Women in Public Affairs Award Fund.


Below is a list of the 2019 YWPA Awardees. Read more about the 2019 international awardees.

International Recipients

Jennifer Zhang, USA, District 2
Amal Qayum, Canada, District 4
Katherine Carranza-Bahena, USA, District 6
Alison Ruth Cohen, USA, District 9
Olivia Amanda Luxon, New Zealand, District 16
Breanna Quyan Ng, USA, District 17
Claudette Mama Kai Wilson, Ghana, District 18
Khushi Shelat, Australia, District 22
Prashansha K C, Nepal, District 25
Ariane Colson, France, District 30

District Recipients

Kande E. Charles, Dominica, District 1
Marissa Hope Mehia, USA, District 3
Elizabeth Marie D’sa, USA, District 5
Lara Rae Erdmann, USA, District 7
Maclaren Thai Forrest, Canada, District 8
Rose Hanh Nguyen, USA, District 10
Emily Zheng, USA, District 11
Grace Belize Anderson, USA, District 12
Emilie Sloth Spliid, Denmark, District 13
Svea Victoria Strassburger, Germany, District 14
Emma Sarah Buday, USA, District 15
Vanina Brufau Martínez, Uruguay, Region South America
Sonia Singh, Finland, District 20
Chloé Nea Hermine Andréhn, Sweden, District 21
Madalynn Rose Baumanis, Australia, District 23
Sarah Al Helfy, Australia, District 24
Maho Suzuki, Japan, District 26
Maëlle Dickhoff, Luxembourg/Netherlands/Belgium, District 27
Sonja Marschall, Germany, District 28
Florence Isabella Marks, United Kingdom, District 29
Yu-Yun Chang, Taiwan (ROC), District 31
Jaey Kim, South Korea, District 32


If you have any questions, please email programs@zonta.org

Stand with women and girls worldwide


Related resources

Recent News

2 JULY 2020

Meet the young women who are changing the world

Zonta International is proud to announce the 2019 Young Women in Public Affairs (YWPA) Award district/region and international recipients, who represent 22 countries.
Read entire news article 

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