Every member globally contributes because they feel women need to make place for themselves, women need to be pulled up, who else to pull them up other than us who (the women) have achieved a little bit in the society and can contribute, explained Dr. Simmen M. Akhtar, President of Zonta Club of Greater Dhaka, about the inspiration of Zonta members.

Zonta Club of Greater Dhaka, a wing of Zonta Internation, is a non-profit club ran by women for women, Zonta believes in empowerment of the women through advocacy and services. Since 2012 Zonta Club of Greater Dhaka has worked in Bangladesh on various projects for different causes of women empowerment.

The members of Zonta, often referred as Zontions are women coming from a privileged group with an intention of up lifting the underprivileged women with whatever support they can provide. Teaming up for this cause has strengthened them. Most executive members of Zonta are independent and active professionals in their respective fields.

Zonta arranges different events to inspire women for their exemplary works. Every year multiple events are held but due to the pandemic events have not been arranged physically since last year's March. However, amid pandemic an award giving ceremony and celebration event was arranged on Saturday.

With the motto choose to challenge, four outstanding women- Dr. Shagufa Anwar, Ms. Saira Nazneen Ahsan, Sister Farzana Akter and Ms. Sajeda Akter Mita have been awarded for their contribution to the society during the COVID-19 pandemic. According Zonta club of Greater Dhaka, these heroes have been working behind the scene since the critical stages of the pandemic and brought changes to the lives of others; awarding them was a token of honour from the club.

Dr. Shagufa Anwar, Director Communications and Business Development of United Hospital Ltd., has been focusing on everyday excellence and minimizing service cost of the hospital. As a woman the major challenge she has faced in her academic and professional life is that no one expects a woman to be serous with studies and career. However, she overcame those challenges. Being a health communication specialist for last two decades she has been working on various voluntary programmes to develop the health services of our country. As a woman leader she has been playing a major role in health services during this pandemic.

Founder of Sunshine Learning Center and NSU faculty Ms. Saira Nazneen Ahsan, has been working with inclusive education. Running an inclusive education center of one's own accord in a country like ours is no doubt a tough job. But she has been doing this, even at the time of lockdown she decided to continue the therapy for specially able children. Fighting all the odds she successfully did that and still continues.

Stuff nurse of Evercare Hospital Farzana Akter, has served in the Covid unit of the hospital risking her own life when no one agreed to come forward for the patients. She has always been dedicated and honest to her profession. She worked closed to the patients in ICU, she herself got infected. Despite that she kept saving lives.

Ms. Sajeda Akter Mita, Technologist of Praava Health, was the only woman who agreed to collect the COVID test specimen when other technologists didn't want to risk their lives as the pandemic began. "Such a brave lady, who struggles a lot, faces many challenges- she had family issues, she got strokes and clinical conditions but she has been working for almost 9 months as the only women sample collector," said President of Zonta Club of Greater Dhaka Dr. Simmen M. Akhtar.

Past President of Zonta Club of Greater Dhaka Sonya Panni said, In recognition of the women and the girls who have brought change in people's lives we have arranged this ceremony. The women we awarded have done exemplary works during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though Rose Day is on 8 March and coincides with International women's day we are celebrating it on 13 March (Saturday) this year. We celebrate this day every year.

She feels extremely motivated when she finds the club members going to the different communities- who are deprived, underprivileged and needy. When an effort is made to create difference in their life they are so glad, so touched, they don't have words to thanks us, explained Dr. Simmen with great joy.

Helping one woman is actually helping the whole family. So every life Zonta touches is helping a greater number of people in the society and that is the biggest satisfaction for the Zontions (club members). Zonta believes there are many women who have been working behind the scene but never been appreciated in public. It is necessary to bring their struggle and motivation to limelight so that other women can get inspired.

This club has been an aspiration hub for the women fighting to secure their own destiny. Zonta focuses on empowerment of the women through advocacy and services. In Bangladesh Zonta has worked on various projects and collaboration programmes including projects with Ashar Alo Pathsala in Kurigram to stop child marriage, Rohingya women have been provided with advocacy support and skill development training, the club has provided with sewing machines to women and set up sanitary toilets as well. In addition to their previous projects this year for the very first time, Zonta has sponsored braille books in partnership with Sporsho. The books will be available at the Ekushey book fair, informed Dr. Simmen M. Akhtar.

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