These Awards recognize pre-university and pre-college women students committed to leadership in public policy, government and volunteer organizations. See the Awards Application for further information regarding eligibility, application requirements, contact information, and application process.

Young Women in Public Affairs Award

Though about 40 percent of the world’s workforce is women, according to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, only 22.7 percent of all national parliamentarians were female as of 1 June 2016. 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 804 awards (includes international awards), totaling US$764,750, to 692 young women representing 54 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$1,000, and 10 international recipients are selected from the district/region recipients to receive awards of US$4,000 each.


Women, ages 16-19 on 1 April each year, living in a Zonta district/region, or a citizen 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 will be considered and eligible to apply for the district/region Award. Z and Golden Z club members are also eligible to apply. Classified members and employees of Zonta International and Zonta International Foundation, and their family members, 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 must start with a Zonta club. All application materials must be received at a Zonta club by the printed deadline. Zonta clubs select one application to send to the district governor/region representative. 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 Award 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.

Watch here for information about 2021

2020 Young Women in Public Affairs Winners

Crystal Salinas
Crystal Salinas
Joelle Min
Joelle Min
Brooke Friedman
Brooke Friedman

This year’s applicants for the YWIPA scholarships were outstanding! Our top three applicants were awarded scholarships to continue their efforts to improve the lives of women by pursuing educational goals towards careers in public affairs.

The scholarships are distributed to first, second and third place winners, who attend local high schools or college, and are 16 – 19 years of age. The competition, which also has District 9 and Zonta International award levels, provides a potential award amount of up to an additional $5,500.  This award is designed to encourage young women to take an interest in public affairs and perhaps pursue a career in a related field.

This year's recipients are Crystal Salinas from Hart High School who goal is to become a Global Health Physician to improve health worldwide;

Joelle Min who attends Academy of the Canyons and has future goals to become a lawyer and leader in human rights law, and to become a US diplomat to advocate for improvement in the status of women; and

Brooke Friedman from Valencia High whose goal is to become an orthodontist and continue to volunteer for her church, Girl Scouts, and the Red Cross.

Congratulations to this winner YWPA Scholarship awardees!   We are very proud of you.