Its Beginnings

In the early years of Zonta in Asia, the Philippines, along with 11 other countries, made up what was then Region 1. A letter on file dated January 7, 1975 from International President Eleanor Jammal advised of ZI's appointment of Area Directors for Bangladesh, Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand-- the 12 countries comprising Region 1. The Regional Representative was Dr. Grit Sawada, a Caucasian married to a Japanese and residing in Nagoya, Japan. Thus in 1975 the Regional Conference (what is now referred to as the District Conference) was held in Nagoya, Japan.

The two subsequent Conferences were held in Hong Kong in 1977 and in Korea in 1979 with Karen Loh and Mary Lee as Regional Representatives, respectively, presiding. Among matters discussed at the 1979 Conference was the forthcoming districting of Region 1 as directed by Zonta International.


As mandated by Zonta International, District Conferences must be held once every biennium. These are held every odd-numbered year and are usually attended by the ZI President or her Representative who, as a usual practice, is a member of the ZI Board.

The purposes of District Conferences are enumerated and described in the District Manual. Foremost of these that have a direct bearing on the administration of the district, are the presentation and acceptance of the audit report, election of district officers and nominating committee, adoption of the District budget, presentation of proposed resolution affecting the District, receiving the International President's message (not exactly in that order).

Organisation of District 17

The District 17 officers elected in Korea on 19 September 1979, when the District was born, were installed by IP Evelyn de Witt at the International Convention in Washington, DC in July 1980. They were Governor Cecilia Muñoz-Palma, Lieut. Gov. Nancy Huang, Secretary Ruth C. Tirol, and AD Miyo Yamada of Japan.

Pursuant to ZI Bylaws and after consultation with clubs, the District was divided in 7 Areas with corresponding ADs as follows:

Area 1 Bangladesh, India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka with Mitha Shroff of Bombay 1 as Area Director
Area 2 Japan, with Miyo Yamada of Kyoto as AD
Area 3 Korea, with Woul-Young Chu of Seoul as AD
Area 4 Taiwan, ROC, with Hsi-Wen Chang of Taipei 1 as AD
Area 5 Hongkong, with Peggy Lam as AD
Area 6 Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, with Nenet Sirisamphan of Bangkok 1 as AD
Area 7 Philippines, with Dr. Suga Sotto Yuvienco of Cebu as Area Director

The inauguration ceremony celebrating the organization of the District was held in Manila on 12 September 1980. Lieut. Gov. nancy Huang and two representatives from Taiwan, ADs and guests from other Zontian clubs, Rotary, Soroptomist, & other international organizations were present. Guest speaker was Dr. Wah Wong, UNICEF Representatives to the Asia-Pacific Area.

First Conference

Date : November 11-13, 1981
Venue : Bangkok, Thailand
Theme : "Zonta for Rural Population Development in Asia"
Governor : Cecilia Muñoz Palma
Int'l President : Shirley Schneider

HRH Princess Galvani Vadhana, eldest sister of His Majesty the King, delivered the opening address and opened the Conference.

Cecilia Muñoz-Palma

Second Conference

Date : November 1-3, 1983
Venue : Taipei, Taiwan ROC
Theme : "Action for Service, Friendship for Peace"
Governor : Nancy Huang (Taepei 1)
Int'l President : Cornelia Hodges
(Keynote Speaker)

Nancy Huang
(Taiwan), 1982-1984

Third Conference

Date : October 26-28, 1985
Venue : Tokyo, Japan
Theme : "Growth & Progress Through Personal Involvement"
Governor : Dolly Ng (Hong Kong)
Int'l President : Annikki Makinen
(Keynote Speaker)

Dolly Ng
(Hong Kong), 1984-1986

Fourth Conference

Date : December 3-6, 1987
Venue : Manila, Philippines
Theme : "Building Peace through Serving and Sharing"
Governor : Kiyo Akiyama (Japan)
Int'l President : Amey Grubbs (in attendance)
Also present : PIP Harriette Yeckel and Int'l Rep Leneen Forde of Australia

Kiyo Akiyama
(Japan), 1986-1988

Fifth Conference

Date : December 2-4, 1989
Venue : Madras, India
Theme : "none"
Governor : Joanne Lee (Korea)
Int'l President : Ruth Walker
Also present : Leneen Forde (ZIP-Elect)

On the Conference agenda was the Zonta International proposal to divide District 17 into smaller and more manageable groups. This meant that the 11 countries in the District would be subdivided into three (3) Districts.

Discussion was handled in Madras by IP-Elect Leneen Forde, who explained why it was necessary to divide. Majority vote approved the division as follows:

District 26: Korea, Japan, Taiwan
District 17: Hong Kong, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia
District 25: India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, singapore

While acknowledging that District 25 will have difficulties, Zonta International support could be extended as it had done in South America.

Joanne Lee
(Korea), 1988-1990

Sixth Conference

Date : November 18-22, 1991
Venue : Bangkok, Thailand
Theme : "Together for a Better Tomorrow"
Governor : Carmen Enverga Santos (Philippines)
Int'l President : Leneen Forde (in attendance)

Carmen Enverga-Santos (Philippines)

Seventh Conference

Date : October 29-31, 1993
Venue : Jakarta, Indonesia
Theme : "Women in the Changing World"
Governor : Carlye W L Tsui (Hong Kong)
Int'l President : Sonja Renfer
Int'l Representative : Gro Ramsten Wesenberg

Carlye W L Tsui
(Hong Kong), 1992-1994

Eight Conference

Date : November 8-10, 1995
Venue : Singapore
Theme : "Bringing the Zonta Family Together"
Governor : Olivia A. Ferry (Philippines)
Int'l President : Folake solanke (attended briefly)
Int'l Representative : Int'l Director Mary Magee

Olivia A. Ferry
(Philippines), 1994-1996

Ninth Conference

Date : November 6-8, 1997
Venue : Cebu, Philippines
Theme : "Inter-Action in Harmony and Unity for a Dynamic Zonta"
Governor : Anna Kwong (Hong Kong)
Int'l President : Josephine Cooke (in attendance)

Anna Kwong
(Hong Kong), 1996-1998

Tenth Conference

Date : November 5-7, 1999
Venue : Hong Kong
Theme : "A New Decade of Sharing the Best of Ourselves In the Spirit of Zonta"
Governor : Brenda Tanjutco (Philippines)
Int'l President : Val Sarah
Int'l Representative : ZI Vice Pres. Margit Webjorn

Brenda L. Tanjutco
(Philippines), 1998-2000

Eleventh Conference

Date : October 19-21, 2011
Venue : Bangkok, Thailand
Theme : "Sharing and Serving in Harmony"
Governor : Kathleen Yip (Hong Kong)
Int'l President : Mary Magee
Int'l Representative : Int'l Director Susan Noakes

Kathleen Yip
(Hong Kong), 2000-2002

Twelve Conference

Date : October 10-12, 2003
Venue : Manila, Philippines
Theme : "Together Let's Make Waves"
Governor : Ma. Imelda S. Gomez (Philippines)
Int'l President : Margit Webjorn
Int'l Representative : ZI Vice President Betty Jane Bourdon

Ma. Imelda S. Gomez
(Philippines), 2002-2004

Thirteenth Conference

Date : September 16-18, 2005
Venue : Kuantan, Malaysia
Theme : "Sharing our Time, our Talents for a Better World"
Governor : Subhaporn Peters (Thailand)
Int'l President : Mary Ellen Bittner
Int'l Representative : Int'l Director Lynn McKenzie

Subhaporn Peters
(Thailand), 2004-2006

Fourteenth Conference(First Inter-District Conference of D-17 & D-31)

Date : September 14-16, 2007
Venue : Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Philippines
Theme : "Living Together, Growing Together with Zonta"
Governor D-17 : Ma. Victoria P. Vergel de Dios (Philippines)
Governor D-31 : Bi-Shiou Chiou
Int'l President : Olivia A. Ferry (attending for D-31)
Int'l Representative : Beryl Sten (attending for D-17)

Virma P. Vergel de Dios
(Philippines), 2006-2008

Fifteenth Conference

Date : September 17-21, 2009
Venue : Bangkok, Thailand
Theme : "Action for a Better World"
Governor : Narudee Kiengsiri
Int'l President : Beryl Sten (in attendance)

Narudee Kiengsiri
(Thailand), 2008-2010

Sixteenth Conference

Date : August 26-28, 2011
Venue : Manila, Philippines
Theme : "Women Empowering Women: Refocusing on Zonta's Core Mission"
Governor : Georgitta 'Beng' Puyat (Philippines)
Int'l President : Dianne K. Curtis (in attendance)

Georgitta 'Beng' Puyat
(Philippines), 2010-2012

Latest Issue of THE ZONTIAN

17th District 17 Conference in Hong Kong
September 13-15,2013
Call to Conference (Available in Spring 2013)