MANILA - From their backgrounds in the corporate world, the women of Zonta International are bringing the same level of professionalism and drive to their advocacy of uplifting the lives of disenfranchised and abused Filipinas.
Zonta International is a global organization of professionals empowering women through service and advocacy.
In the Philippines, Zonta clubs in different cities have helped set up centers to help women who have been abused, molested, suffered domestic violence or are coping with crushing poverty.
Many members of Zonta, or Zontians as they call themselves, are professionals who have excelled in their fields.
Rita Dy, is president of the Pico De Loro Beach and Country Club; Olivia Ferry is vice president of Solemmil Corporation and president of Towns Foundation Inc; Ma. Imelda "Dandy" Gomez is a consultant with the Climate Change Commission; Atty. Daisy Arce is president of Capital Markets Integrity Corp, and Eleanor Soriano is president of Paseo De Roxas Foundation.
There are 51 Zonta clubs all over the Philippines, counting some 1,800 members.
Zontians are confident, accomplished women and they aim to empower other women.
One of the problems they have tackled is human trafficking. Ferry said that 71 percent of the victims of trafficking are women and girls, who often are sexually exploited.
"It is certainly very devastating for a woman if she's trafficked," Ferry said.
Zonta has partnered with foreign governments and foundations to set up centers where victims of trafficking can receive legal, psychological and physical help.
Arce said they also have projects to help marginalized women get livelihood.
Transitioning from the corporate world to the realm of volunteerism and advocacy wasn't easy, admitted Dy.
Arranging a meeting of officers and members was complicated because they all had their own work and lives.
"But it's a very enriching experience to be on the other side of the fence," Dy said.