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.

YWPA 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.

YWPA Eligibility

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.

YWPA 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.


2020 Application now available here

The Young Women in Public Affairs scholarship is now available online.

2019 YWPA Winners

YWPA 2019

Lt to rt: Gloria Mercado-Fortine; Jennifer Elliott; Ashley Hernandez; Katherine Jurkowski and MaryAnn Dortch

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.

Ashley Hernandez is a 12thgrader at Saugus High School. She will be attending a four-year university in the fall to pursue her goal of becoming a social worker. Ashley is the founder and president of “Advice Club” at Saugus High School. The purpose of the club is to create a safe place for those seeking help and guidance. She is a member of the Saugus Rotary Interact Club. Ashley is a board member and historian for Rotary Interact 5280. She received the Outstanding Community Service Award from the club and participated in projects across the Santa Clarita Valley and throughout the Los Angeles district. Ashley helped create the international project “Make It Rain for Water”. This project is providing safe and clean water to two villages and four schools in Honduras.  Ashley also volunteers for both Santa Clarita Valley Safe Rides and Henry Mayo Hospital, and has volunteered over 200 hours at the hospital.

Katherine Jurkowski is a 12thgrader at West Ranch High School. She has worked for the ASB and was instrumental in her Junior year in obtaining over $10,000 in donations for the Prom Magazine, which was key to increasing student involvement and representation. She has volunteered in the community since she was 10 years old, working at the Santa Clarita Food Pantry and Help the Children. She has organized fundraisers for Bridge to Home and served over 400 meals at the shelter. At school, Katherine founded a STEM club to inspire girls to consider pursuing STEM careers. She produced a TV segment that aired to the entire student body, featuring the Assistant Dean from UCLA, Ms. Na. After high school, Katherine will major in business and marketing, mathematics, or communication, with the goal of becoming the Chief Marketing Officer of a business. She will then help to tear down barriers facing special needs adults or those with mental differences.

Jennifer Elliottis a 12thgrade student at Valencia High School where she is very involved in ASB, representing her fellow students for three of her four years as Class President. She has organized many campus Blood Drives and Toy Drives to help others. She is active in the Girl Scouts and has achieved the Bronze and Silver Awards. Jennifer belongs to the UNICEF Club and “Girl Up” Club at Valencia High School. She also volunteers as a swim team coach and as a teacher at her church’s Vacation Bible School. Her future goals are political science and law so she can become a leader in government to advocate for improvement in the status of women. This year she has taken political science at College of the Canyons. Her principal selected Jennifer to be the student representative for Valencia High School