Zonta International has cooperated with the United Nations since the UN was founded in 1945 working together to advance the rights of women and girls. October 24, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and its founding Charter. This anniversary comes in a time of great disruption for our families, our communities, the country and the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with severe economic and social impacts. But it is also a reminder that times of struggle can become an opportunity for self-discovery, positive change and transformation.
Aware that Zonta International and the United Nations are synergetic and reciprocal partners working shoulder to shoulder to empower women and end gender-based violence in our communities and eventually the world the members of Zonta Club of Cebu II endeavored to mark this significant anniversary in a more meaningful and evocative manner that would result in the profound internalization of the significance of the United Nations in each of their life situations.
A core group of our members sought to design an activity that would bring the UN ideals of inclusivity, tolerance, understanding, curiosity towards peoples and cultures, open-mindedness, fraternity and solidarity in diversity to a more personal level. The UN Day virtual activity titled “Peace and Poetry: A Celebration of Humanity” was planned to allow each member to discover unique insights and signature expressions and slogans of the UN ideals in real life coupled with moving and thought-provoking readings of various literary compositions that would transport the participants to a place where the United Nations takes on a more profound and personal significance and that its relationship and standing with Zonta International is better appreciated.
The virtual session began with a video presentation highlighting the projects undertaken by Zonta International in collaboration and partnership with the United Nations. This was followed by members of Zonta Club of Cebu II reading thought-provoking poems and excerpts from emotive speeches and literary pieces that dramatized the UN principles of peace and goodwill. The stage was set for a memorable afternoon with the first piece read, Excerpts from “A Strategy of Peace”, one of the more controversial and game-changing speeches of John Fitzgerald Kennedy given at the American University in 1963 just two months after the pivotal Cuban Missile Crisis. This was followed by readings of three inspiring literary pieces by author, actress, screenwriter, dancer, poet and civil rights activist African American Maya Angelou: “Still I Rise” with its soaring message of survival, strength, resilience and hope, “A Brave and Startling Truth” composed for the 50th anniversary of the United nations in 1995 which the author dedicated to “the hope for peace, which lies, sometimes hidden, in every heart” and “Phenomenal Woman” read by guest Georgitta Puyat, Chairperson of the UN Committee of District 17, a piece that challenges the restrictive notions of feminine beauty and offering the message instead that real beauty comes from a place of self-confidence and self-acceptance. The afternoon concluded on a somber note with the dramatic reading by Guest reader, Gina Atienza, president of Zonta Club of Cebu I of “Boat”, a stirring poem by Rupi Kaur Canadian poet and illustrator inspired by a photo of the deceased three-year old who washed up on the shore of Turkey and whose image became an international symbol of the horrific refugee crisis.
Aside from members of Zonta Club of Cebu II the virtual poetry reading session featured guests from mother club Zonta Club of Cebu I, Area 3 Director and Vice Area Director Teresita Apistar and Teresa Chan respectively and UN Committee District 17 Vice Chairperson Esperanza Dacudao.