The fouding mothers of the Zonta Club of Luleå, Sweden

The Zonta Club of Luleå started in 1978. It was a little more than twenty dedicated women who entered the magnificent church from 1492, in Gammelstad the 13th of February. There was held a solemn ceremony when the Zonta Club of Luleå chartered as number 828.

The first ten years in the clubs history were marked by dedication and sisterhood. The first presidentin the clubs history was Eine Johansson 1978 – 1980. She was followed by Ester Sundvall 1980 –1982, Brita Rönnbäck 1982 – 1984, Ella Olin 1984 – 1986 and Kerstin Pettersson 1986 – 1988. During this period the club meetings, the first Tuesday in every month, were mostly held at the members work places. This created a need to organize in a flexible way for meals, meeting, discussions and negotiations. It was not unusual that members met in advance before meetings to do the cooking for the evening. The information to the members was sent by post, and letters from the Zonta headquarter and from the district were of great importance.

During the next decade the club had matured and some traditions had evolved. During this period the club started to have most of their meetings at the same place. Since none of the members had todo the cooking, this meant that increased efforts could be paid at the Zonta issues. One common question during this period was how to increase the funding to be able to pay “The house” in USA. Zonta members in the Club of Luleå have always been interested in the mission, work and scholarship by Zonta. And it was a great joy when a young researcher in Luleå, Marie Finnström, got the Amelia Earhart scholarship and also became a member of the club. The presidents during this period were Irene Larsson 1988 - 1990, Marie Finnström 1990 - 1992, Berit Rensgard 1992 –1994, Gunnel Bengtsson 1994 – 1996 and Kerstin Öhrling 1996 – 1998. In May 1998 the club with their 38 members celebrated its 20th anniversary together with guests from the other clubs in the area. The celebration was highlighted by media and information about Zontas project in Addis Abbeba, Ethiopia as well as Amelia Earhart scholarship was presented.

During the period 1998 – 2007 the typewriter was replaced by computers and the introduction of cell phones accelerated. The communication via the internet started and members got access to Zonta information in a new way. It has been valuable with the new technology offering openness for the work of Zonta. The presidents were Runa Wester 1998 – 2000, Agneta Ekman 2000 – 2002, Runa Wester 2002 – 2002, Kerstin Nyberg 2002 – 2004, Lillemor Öqvist-Andersson 2004 – 2006 and Marianne Blixt 2006 – 2008. The board of the Zonta Club of Luleå organized in 2005 an education for all members with the focus on how to use the new information and communication technology.All members were supported to use the homepage and seek information there. The vision of Zonta became thereby more visible for all members. During this period the club received a donation dedicated for local scholarship. In accordance with the donors wish it was young women who had been successful in local business activities who received the scholarship. The award was presented to the winner at the club Christmas meetings for a number of years.

From 2008 until today the clubs work rests on its previous traditions but with an updated and modern image. In april 2008 the club celebrated the 30th anniversary parallel with organizing an area meeting. Three charter members were honored with a diploma. The presidents during thisperiod were Ann-Sofie Isaksson Nordmark 2008-2010, Alice Sundling 2010, Kerstin Öhrling 2010– 2011, Åsa Wilén 2011 – 2014 and Sabrina Suikki from 2014. The clubs international commitment has increased during this period due to access to websites and homepages that offers very well documented information. The clubs own visibility has also increased and quite many articles have been presented in local newspapers. Despite a very active and ongoing work to recruit women to Zonta the number of members in the club has decreased. Hopefully the women in the Luleå region will be able to keep their commitment to Zonta in the future.

Luleå, the 17th of November 2014

Written by Kerstin Öhrling

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